BORDER FIELD STATE PARK, Calif. -- Each face would be overlaid with the rusted chain links of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, but Jorge Ibarra snapped the photos anyway.
There was his cousin, holding up her baby boy for the family to see. There, his aunt, wiping her eyes under the shade of her parasol. And there, his grandmother, her face filled with joy as she touched her daughter's fingertips through the fence with her own.
Ibarra, 17, of National City, Calif., shot the family photos on a recent Sunday afternoon here, where the 2,000-mile line separating the United States and Mexico sinks into the Pacific Ocean. For years, Mexican American families have flocked to this beachside park to see, touch, hear and feed loved ones through the modest openings of the fence.
But the days of such reunions are numbered. Starting this month, construction of a more fortified barrier along the southern edge of the park and the three miles to the east will begin as part of the federal government's crackdown on drug and document smuggling, illegal crossings and violence in the surrounding area.
Two 15-foot-high fences will flank the current one, forging a 90-foot-wide stretch for a paved border patrol road and stadium lights, according to Angela de Rocha, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol spokeswoman. The gap will transform the dynamics of the gatherings here, preventing touching and close conversation. With only distant glimpses to offer, it may mark an end to many, if not all, such visits.
"We don't know when they're going to do it," said Ibarra, standing with his sister, mother and young nephews. "So we've been trying to come every weekend."
The $60 million construction project comprises the western portion of the San Diego Border Infrastructure System, a 14-mile, federally mandated initiative that dates to 1996. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) secured funding for the fence and thousands more Border Patrol Officers to combat rampant smuggling of illegal immigrants and border gangs who raped, robbed and murdered along portions of this border north of Tijuana.
Well it's about damn time. Hopefully word of this fence will get around as fast as the one about welfare for anchor babies. This fence should encourage a few million more of them will get their tax draining, criminal butts out of our country.