Tijuana — where the push to canonize Mother Teresa began — celebrated her new sainthood last week.

The Missionaries of Charity priests have carried on the nun’s legacy in the city’s most neglected corners since their center opened there in 1988, holding masses and weekly soup kitchens and tending to the ill. 

The priests work with a cadre of volunteers in out-of-the-way colonias like Nueva Esperanza, a community that is built mainly out of plywood and chain-link fences.

Photo by Brooke Binkowski
Photo by Brooke Binkowski

“As a fruit of our evangelization of the poor here in Tijuana a community of Discipulos de Jesus Sediment (Disciples of the Thirsting Jesus) has been born,” said Father Zbigniew Szczotka of the Missionaries of Charity. “The community is a fruit of personal encounter with Jesus of those who for different reasons have ended on the street. Many of them have been deported from the United States and ended on the street … some of them suffer from different kind of addictions.”

Photo by Brooke Binkowski
Photo by Brooke Binkowski

The Disciples help with putting together masses and feeding people, as well as proselytizing.

Cross-Border Politics

• By now, you have probably heard about Donald Trump’s Aug. 31 visit to the Distrito Federal. Now, a Mexican legislator from Oaxaca is requesting a report on Trump’s immigration status to find out whether he entered the country legally. PRD senator Luis Humberto Fernandez Fuentes said he wants to know whether the controversial U.S. presidential candidate, who seemed to decide abruptly to visit Peña Nieto in Mexico, had the correct paperwork when he landed his private plane at the presidential hangar in Mexico City.

• Thousands marched through Tijuana on Saturday as part of a coordinated demonstration in more than 120 cities throughout Mexico. The rallies, organized by the Catholic organization Frente Nacional por la Familia, or National Front for the Family, were intended as a show of solidarity against same-sex marriage. The marches were intended to protest President Enrique Peña Nieto’s proposed constitutional reforms, which would allow marriage between couples no matter their sex or gender identity.

On Sunday, hundreds of people marched on Mexico City’s Catedral Metropolitana for gay marriage, saying that families are families (#TambiénSomosFamilias) and waving pride flags.

• Mexican businessman José Susumo Azano Matsura was convicted Friday of various federal charges stemming from funneling more than half a million dollars to the campaigns of San Diego mayoral candidates Bonnie Dumanis and Bob Filner and other local politicians during the 2012 elections.

Three others were also charged: campaign services specialist Ravneet Singh (who was found guilty on all charges), lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes (who was found not guilty on charges of falsifying records; the jury deadlocked on conspiracy charges) and Azano’s son, Edward Azano Hester (who was convicted of conspiracy and donations by a foreign national). Azano and Singh will be sentenced on Dec. 12, and Edward Azano will be sentenced on Dec. 5.

For more on Azano’s lambo-driving, spy gear-peddling background, check out VOSD’s investigative series on his foray into politics and how he made his money.

• If the United States built a wall on the Mexican border, what would we get for it? Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson, apparently blithely unaware that such a wall already exists, cites the possibility of immigration reform and stimulating Mexico’s economy as support for his argument, which is, in case it isn’t obvious, “build the wall.”

(Samuelson also said that nobody knows how much building a wall would cost. If only there was some type of precedent available.)

Samuelson is in good company when it comes to WaPo columnists imparting misguided border wisdom from thousands of miles away: Check out this Fact Check VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt did a few years back about a claim regarding triple fencing at the border.

More Border News

• The flood of Haitians and other migrants at the international border shows no signs of slowing down, continuing to overwhelm migrant shelters. Tijuana now says it is in crisis mode due to the influx of people trying to get into the United States. “People are waiting in the streets,” Father Patrick Murphy of Tijuana’s Casa del Migrante told the San Diego Union-Tribune last week. “We have people outside the door.” Tijuana’s Coalicion Pro-Defensa del Migrante is calling for “comprehensive humanitarian assistance” for those arriving in the city.

• A Tulare man is looking for answers after his baby son was found dead in a Tijuana lot. The seven-month-old’s body was wrapped in a blanket and stuffed into a plastic bag. Joany Aguirre blames the infant’s mother — his ex-girlfriend — and her new boyfriend for his death, but Jazmine Villalobos and Luis Espinoza told authorities in San Diego that he died of a medical issue and they simply disposed of his body in Tijuana. (ABC 7)

 Child soldiers are treated as victims in foreign conflicts, but the children and adolescents pressed into service by cartels at the U.S.-Mexico border are not. Why is there such a blind spot where the exploitation of those on the border are concerned, particularly as crime appears to be on the upswing in border regions once again? According to the Child Rights Network, 30,000 young people have been manipulated, coerced, or otherwise brought into service in the ongoing drug war in the borderlands, thousands of whom have been killed. (New Yorker)

• Water is returning to the more than 330 Tijuana and Rosarito colonies that were cut off while the city repaired an aqueduct. More than 600,000 people were affected. (UniMexicali; link in Spanish)

• Virtual reality exercises are becoming a big part of training for Border Patrol agents gearing up for field work, the New York Times reports. The Tucson sector of the U.S. Border Patrol invited reporters to try their hands at the new system last week, showcasing virtual situations based on real-life events.

According to the Southern Border Communities Coalition, at least 46 people have died as the result of encounters with U.S. border agents, and still more have been injured.

• On Sept. 16, Tijuana, like the rest of Mexico, will celebrate its independence day with festivities and El Grito de Dolores (the Cry of Dolores, which marked the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence in the small town of Dolores — near Guanajuato — in 1810), as it does every year.

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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