Immigration reform activists are set to arrive in Los Angeles on Tuesday — on foot. They started a 130-mile walk from Friendship Park, at the very edge of the U.S.-Mexico border, on Aug. 20. The walk, El Camino del Inmigrante (The Path of the Immigrant) began at the border and is set to end at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, where participants plan to hold a demonstration.
“We have been able to find a connection with hunger and undocumented immigrants, and sadly, our undocumented immigrants are at higher risk of suffering from hunger and poverty,” said Bishop Jose García of Washington D.C.-based Bread for the World, a Christian umbrella organization with the goal of ending hunger.
García, who was preparing to begin the long walk, said that hunger rates among undocumented immigrants in the United States are twice that of the overall population.
“Thirty-four percent of children that are the children of undocumented immigrants are struggling with hunger and poverty in the United States of America. So that’s one of the reasons I am making this walk, to raise attention to create awareness of these issues so our lawmakers can really engage in bringing a fair immigration reform to our country.”
“This walking in solidarity with the migrants is something that’s very passionate to us,” said Enrique Morones of Border Angels, an advocacy group that helped organize the southernmost leg of the event.
“We’ve done 10 Marcha Migrantes starting at Friendship Park, first in 2006 — which helped spark the national marches of that spring — and now doing it in collaboration with El Camino del Inmigrante, which is a beautiful concept,” he said.
The event kicked off with a mass for Father Henry Rodriguez, the beloved priest and advocate for border issues who died suddenly of pneumonia in early August.
The walkers average eight to 10 miles a day in the Southern California heat, stopping at churches to rest along the way.
Air Monitors Arrive in San Ysidro
San Ysidro, one of the busiest borders in the world, received its first air monitor this week, reports the Times of San Diego. It will be one of a network of 13 monitors that will help residents track changes in air quality and gauge the effects of cross-border air pollution. Local residents are being trained by researchers to monitor the data, which will be displayed on its own website and on the CalEnviroScreen page. The project is being funded by the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Earlier this year, VOSD described how San Ysidro residents themselves have led the charge for more monitoring, after years of worries about the health effects of idling cars. As the border crossing expands, those concerns have grown more urgent.
The Challenges of Border-Separated Families
The Union-Tribune profiled the group DREAMers Moms (Madres Soñadores), which helps deported mothers in Tijuana reunite with their children who are still in the United States, and seek to return to the U.S. The Tijuana chapter is headed by Yolanda Varona, who lived in El Cajon for nearly 20 years before she was deported, and whose children remain in the area.
The group meets in The Bunker, which also houses and serves as a meeting place for some of Tijuana’s deported veterans of the United States military.
• The Gateway Inn is a single-room occupancy hotel where many who would otherwise be homeless live. It is perched at the U.S.-Mexico border, where many stay so that they can more easily travel between countries to see deported family members. Its residents received a 60-day eviction notice on Aug. 22, and its owner — who’s in the process of getting a demolition permit — faces criminal charges, reports the San Diego Free Press. Meanwhile, families living in the hotel (many of whom are either elderly or parents with children in school) have no idea where they will go next.
More Border News
• Singer Juan Gabriel, whose work made him a household name throughout the Spanish-speaking world, died at his home in Santa Monica on Sunday, just days after playing a show at The Forum in Los Angeles. Gabriel was born in Michoacan, but moved to Ciudad Juárez as a child in the 1950s before breaking into the music business in his 20s, according to this detailed 1999 profile in the Los Angeles Times. Gabriel was 66.
• Baja California’s plan to build the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere is moving forward, with a project in the works for northern Rosarito Beach. The water would be sold to state agencies, and now the Otay Water District, just north of the border, is in the process of applying for a permit from the U.S. State Department to construct a pipeline that could carry 50 million gallons of water a day across the international border, reports the Union-Tribune.
• The 2016 Tijuana Fair kicked off last week, and will be running through Sept. 18 at Parque Morelos.
• According to Vox, shooting in Mexio has made “Fear the Walking Dead,” the spinoff to “The Walking Dead,” a better show. (Hint: It’s because it’s “unusual” for American-produced shows to set up shop in Mexico, according to the site. It also refers to “Baja, Mexico,” wherever that is.)