How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A unique binational gathering place turns 40

Learning recently that a unique gathering place on the U.S.-Mexico border was turning 40 inspired me to dig up this slide show from last year, with the audio and photos taken during my last visit there.

Friendship Park is a small circle surrounding a worn marble border monument from 1851 that sits on the international boundary south of San Diego. It's part of the larger Border Field State Park, a place I've always found fascinating in that for years, it has been the only public park on the border where people can gather - though more recently, only with U.S. government permission - to visit with people in Mexico through the fence.

Until 2009, this was a popularĀ day trip destination for Mexican American families from Los Angeles, Riverside and beyond. The park drew families who would pull up beach chairs and umbrellas and spend the day catching up with relatives on the Tijuana side of the fence. Some who traveled there were the spouses of deportees. Many were mixed-status families in which some members could travel, but some could not.