North Of The Fence: It’s All About The San Diego-Tijuana Border

by on October 20, 2015 · 0 comments

in Culture, Environment, Media, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

View into downtown Tijuana from the U.S. side

Editor: We wanted to introduce OB Rag readers to something similar to our online newspaper – the South Bay Compass – edited by Barbara Zaragoza. Barbara covers the South Bay – including the border – like the OB Rag covers OB, the Peninsula and other beaches. Plus she and the SB Compass are increasingly becoming associated with our online associates at the San Diego Free Press – and by extension with the OB Rag.

By Barbara Zaragoza/ SouthBayCompass

Huckabee’s Visit

The Times of San Diego reported that former Arkansas governor and Presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, visited Border Field State Park on Saturday, October 10th. Standing alongside former congressman, Duncan Lee Hunter, Huckabee talked about illegal border crossers, saying: “They’re not coming to make beds and pick tomatoes. They’re coming to sell drugs. They’re coming to commit crime and to bring the mayhem that they have in their hearts upon the American people.”

Huckabee didn’t cite his sources. The statement was interesting because more than 68% of the 1.6 million people living in Tijuana legally cross the border at least once a year (sometimes once a week); they have in their hearts a desire — to shop. They spend at least $6 billion a year, or more than $1 of every $8 in retail sales in San Diego. (Check page 7 of the linked report.) That means legal, peaceful Tijuanese put a heck of a lot of sales tax dollars into our economy each year.
He also failed to cite that the trumped up border security and inadequate infrastructure at the ports of entry, in 2007, for example, translated into an estimated loss of $7.2 billion in gross output and a loss of 62,000 jobs. That’s according to SANDAG.

Mike–next time you visit us, don’t call Border Patrol for a tour. Go to the San Ysidro Port of Entry and talk to some of the ordinary folks about wait times at the border, higher rates of asthma due to pollution and job losses due to an over-emphasis on security.

You might also ask about our Tijuanese shoppers about the stereotype of Americans who often cross the border into Mexico in order to avoid apprehension or prosecution.

Facial Recognition Technology

And speaking of wait times, the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce reported that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are delaying the field test for pedestrians. Pedestrians entering and exiting the U.S. through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry will be screened with facial recognition technology.

The inbound test will now begin mid-November and the outbound test will begin mid-December. This pilot is aimed at testing technologies for exit and entry inspections, which was mandated by Congress several years ago. CBP has stated that if they see major delays because of this field test, they have the authority to suspend it anytime.

U.S. Border Patrol Supervisor Charged

Marty Graham over at Reuters reported that “A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor has been charged with creating bogus alerts in the agency’s database to force routine stops, sometimes at gunpoint, of a legal U.S. resident who frequently crosses the border with Mexico.” Read the full article here.

Red Dye In The Ocean

Sandra Dibble at the Union Tribune wrote that a binational team of scientists have placed red dye into the ocean on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and want to track its course through the waves and ocean currents. This might help better understand the untreated sewage flow between the two countries.

Other Notable News

  • Mayor Serge Dedina climbed a fence into a property on Seacoast Drive and started to pick up the littered glass bottles and trash. He had filed a complaint with the city, calling the area a public nuisance, before going in with the city manager and assistant manager to clean up the property themselves.
  • National City continues to work with The Port of San Diego to create a Marina District that would replace the industrial blight at its waterfront.

Border Tour Recommendations:

Instead of events today (although I would seriously consider going to Pumpkin Palooza at Suzie’s Farm this Saturday), I’m making some recommendations for Huckabee on this next visit. He might like to consider some of the following tours:

The Maquiladoras Tour: Hosted by Enrique Davalas, a professor at City College, who takes people from the San Ysidro Port of Entry to the maquiladoras factories on the Mexican side of the border. He brings along former maquila workers to speak about the working conditions there. The tour ends with lunch at the old curio market, where you learn about the craftsmanship of Ollin Calli. (Check his website because he has also added a tour of the Kumeyaay.)

Turista Libre offers all sorts of Tijuana tours, taking visitors through the dynamic foodie culture and art scene. I went on a private tour with guide Alex who showed me the different socio-economic neighborhoods of Tijuana, explained the grass-roots movements for the betterment of communities, and explained how most Tijuanaese cross the border legally every year to enjoy the delights of San Diego.

Mike Harris –a retired Border Patrol agent –provides private driving tours right along the border on the American side. He’ll even show you the door where illegal immigrants get pushed back into the channel.

The UU Borders trip is a weekend-long experience where you get to speak with deportees, attend a bi-national worship service and learn all about the social justice issues surrounding immigration.

The League of Women Voters also periodically hosts border tours that include visiting the sewage treatment plant and the U.S. Consulate in Mexico.

Finally, the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce and the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce hold a large number of informational events and tours the shed light on binational trade and the challenges businesses face due to the border. You can get on their newsletters to find out more.

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