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Immigration was a key topic during a July 22 meeting between President Barack Obama and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, which ended with new security and environmental initiatives. The two also announced a new binational effort to track people crossing from Mexico to the United States and vice-versa.

The U.S. also renewed its commitment to the Merida Initiative, a plan that has received both praise and criticism for its efforts to modernize Mexico’s police department and justice system.

The reaffirmation comes on the heels of an Amnesty International investigation that found that women are routinely tortured — often sexually — in Mexico (including throughout Baja California) in order to secure confessions to boost police numbers on drug-related arrests.

It doesn’t look like Baja’s prisons are doing much better, according to Baja California’s State Commission of Human Rights. Prisons lack adequate staff, medical and dental care, hygienic considerations and care for more vulnerable populations. (El Tijuanense; link in Spanish)

Immigration Looms Large at Party Conventions

Immigration was also a mainstay at both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.

The DNC, however, did something unprecedented by bringing a mother and daughter — 11-year-old Karla Ortiz, and her mother Francisca Sanchez — on stage to discuss immigration reform. Francisca Sanchez, like her husband, is undocumented; Karla is an American citizen. Their appearance marks a sea change in the way immigration is talked about in national politics, but whether it will change anything for the lives of more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country is anybody’s guess.

“In standing up and taking Americans inside what she thinks and feels every day, Karla also expressed a deep kind of faith in the country’s commitment to a certain kind of decency, compassion,” wrote one Washington Post reporter. “She all but raised the question, does the United States remain committed to those ideas carved on that tablet held in the Statue of Liberty’s arms, or not?”

Meanwhile, Hector Barreta, president of the Latino Coalition, told Voice of America that Melania Trump represents the American Dream for immigrants.

The Dangers — and Beauty — of Photojournalism

It’s been a year since photojournalist Ruben Espinosa, who documented events around Mexico for Proceso and other publications, was found tortured and murdered along with four other women (including a Mexicali woman, 18-year-old Yesenia Quiroz) in Mexico City.

Now, the Casa de los Derechos de los Periodistas, (the House for Journalists’ Rights) a safe house for journalists threatened by violence in Mexico plans to open its doors. It already has a waiting list. (El Mundo, link in Spanish)

The 59th annual World Press Photo exhibition wraps up this week in Tijuana. The World Press Photo Foundation showcases photojournalism from all over the world with its traveling exhibit. It can be found through Aug. 4th at the Tijuana Cultural Center.

The Atlantic produced a gallery of the winning photos here.

Getting Around Tijuana

Tijuana is preparing for a new bus rapid transit route, “a transportation system that features dedicated lanes, a centralized control and monitoring system, and stations where riders can pay before boarding,” reports the Union-Tribune.

The new system will mark a major upgrade to the city’s beleaguered public transportation system.

The first phase of the plan would include 51 stations and two terminals, and Mayor Jorge Astiazarán told the Union-Tribune he hopes to see that in place by the end of November.

Tijuana’s PedWest crossing is open for those crossing on foot from Tijuana to San Diego — but how safe is it, really? Tijuana’s mayor (who said the new crossing symbolizes the “bond of trust and brotherhood between Mexico and the United States” the day before touring the bridge), the Tijuana Economic Development Council and the Chula Vista-based South County Economic Development Council have all called for a review of its safety, reports the Union-Tribune.

More Border News

More than 50 thousand foreign students are enrolled in Baja California schools each year. Most are the children of parents deported from the United States.  (Tijuana Press; link in Spanish)

Tijuana’s refugee crisis requires a cross-border response, write two Catholic priests (one is the director of Casa del Migrante – Centro Scalabrini in Tijuana, which takes in migrants and refugees; the other is the founder of San Diego-based social justice coalition A Faith That Does Justice). While Tijuana has opened additional shelters, advocacy, compassion and, above all, more cross-border communication is needed, they say. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Earlier this summer, we took a look inside Tijuana’s shelters as they scramble to accommodate the influx of refugees.

Casa Familiar’s Andrea Skorepa, the “queen of San Ysidro,” has retired after 35 years as the advocacy and civic engagement group’s executive director. (San Diego Free Press)

Brooke Binkowski

Brooke Binkowski is a backpack reporter who has been covering the U.S.-Mexico border for many years. Find her on Twitter at @brooklynmarie.

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