Weeks after Donald Trump’s presidential victory, border communities are still reeling and preparing for changes to the United States immigration system across the board.
Trump pledged during the campaign to “immediately” deport millions, a promise echoed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who softened the rhetoric by adding that there will be no deportation force to move unauthorized immigrants out of the United States, and that a “fence” will likely be an acceptable substitute for the wall that Trump made a key part of his campaign. (Neither Ryan nor Trump seem to be aware that a divider, which is popularly called a “wall,” already exists along much of the border.)
Protests and petitions across the country have called for learning institutions to be “sanctuary campuses” for undocumented students and those who are part of the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides a temporary stay for young undocumented people who are pursuing a university degree. (The term “sanctuary” is a blanket term somewhat open to interpretation, but essentially means that undocumented students will not be turned in or “outed” by their schools.)
The California State University system will not go so far as to call itself a sanctuary campus, but has pledged to not turn over confidential records or cooperate with federal immigration agents without warrants. Alumni of the University of San Diego are pushing for that school to become a sanctuary campus, as are UC San Diego faculty and students.
Churches are also gearing up to offer sanctuary to undocumented people. According to the New Sanctuary Movement, hundreds of houses of worship of various faiths have volunteered across the country to shelter people at risk of deportation and offer them aid. Meanwhile, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said that if Trump follows through on mass deportation, the Roman Catholic Church is willing to take “massive action” to stop it.
Crime and Public Safety News
Feminicides in Baja California have skyrocketed: the state’s attorney general says they are up 89 percent in Tijuana since last year. (Femicide is intentional murder of women specifically because they are women; feminicide refers to killings within the culture of impunity for violence against women. While they describe different but interrelated concepts, the two words are often used interchangeably.)
On Nov. 25 — the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women — activists in Tijuana campaigned to raise awareness of the issue of feminicide. According to numbers from the National Citizen Observatory of Feminicide coalition group, at least six women are murdered in Mexico a day.
• The infamous (and seemingly fearless) Tijuana publication Zeta was threatened by the Jalisco cartel, which reportedly planned to shoot at its offices during the early hours of Nov. 27, but postponed the attack. Investigators attributed the threat to a story listing some of Baja California’s most wanted criminals, including at least 10 alleged cartel members.
• Hip-hop artist Jose Martin, perhaps better known by his stage name, Conejo, has been arrested in Baja California on suspicion of murder. The arrest stems from a 2002 shooting during a house party in Los Angeles’s Vermont Square neighborhood, after which Martin fled to Mexico. During his time in Baja, Conejo launched his own music label, set up an apparel line and released numerous singles and albums on iTunes.
• Tijuana is mourning the loss of its first firefighter killed since 1998. Joel Felix Ubach, 36, was standing by the side of a burning building in Punta Bandera when it collapsed, crushing him. His death came a few hours after Tijuana opened its newest fire station, which has now been renamed in Ubach’s honor. The 36-year-old native of Mexicali was a father of two.
The Refugee Crisis Continues
Another spike in families from Central and South America appearing at the southern border of the United States in order to request for asylum as they flee from their violence-ravaged home countries appears to be under way. For now, most are appearing in Texas, crossing over the Rio Grande.
• An Encinitas orthodontist is collecting and delivering donations for Haitian people in shelters and camps in Tijuana. Dr. Torin Chenard calls his food and clothing (among other things) drive “Bussin’ Blankets to Baja.” More information on the drive is available on his business’s Facebook page.
Border Art and Border Artists
A group of artists is painting the Playas side of the wall that divides the United States and Mexico. The Mural de la Hermandad (Mural of Brotherhood) will continue for more than a mile, and will be completed in April 2017. Muralistas say that their art will carry a message of hope, humanity and inclusion.
• North Park’s Digital Gym, which provides tools for budding and established documentarians, and showcases their work, will be screening its first-ever Tijuana-Migrante Film Festival this Friday, including a question-and-answer session with the directors of the short films. The event begins at 6 p.m.; tickets are $11 for the general public.