Within just three weeks, the Trump administration has catapulted the generally undercovered border region into the public consciousness.
Mexico continues to insist that it won’t pay for the wall — a fact that former president Vicente Fox comments about often on Twitter under the hashtag #FuckingWall. A new report made public last week shows cost estimates for the wall have soared to more than $20 billion – far more than the $12 billion figure Trump has cited.
Congress has proposed plans to raise the money, all of which boil down to a scheme for taxpayers to fund it.
Meanwhile, no one is sure what to make of reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement immigration enforcement raids and ramped-up deportations. Trump said on Sunday that raids are indeed part of a promised “crackdown” yet “ICE has maintained that none of the enforcement actions were out of the ordinary from business-as-usual enforcement,” reports the Union-Tribune.
ICE agents have been conducting immigration raids in at least six (perhaps up to 10) states, including California; according to reports, the raids targeted people at their homes and workplaces. While the administration claimed that the people being deported all have criminal histories, many people without criminal histories were also caught up in the raid and taken from the country.
Last month, Trump signed a sweeping bill that dramatically changed the profile of undocumented people targeted by ICE operations: Despite assurances to the contrary, the Department of Homeland Security can now go after people with no criminal profile at all.
In light of this, local groups have been reaching out to people in the United States without documentation so that they can know their rights. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, has been distributing information so that people caught up in immigration sweeps can understand what legal recourse they might have.
The American Friends Service Committee is another group that has been stepping up its outreach, said Pedro Rios, director of AFSC’s U.S./Mexico Border Program and chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Coalition.
“You do not have to respond to questions about where you were born, where you are from, or your legal status,” he said, “but you should never lie.”
Rios said it is important for families concerned by the new actions to develop a family plan. “Talk with your friends and family and plan what to do in case you are detained,” he told me. “Write down important information about your children (their schools, doctors, medicine, etc.).” He said that families should give someone they trust in the United States access to their bank accounts in the event of their deportation, so that they can continue to have access to their money.
“Keep in mind that border and interior enforcement operations continue, and because San Diego is a border community within the 100-air-mile jurisdiction of the Border Patrol, more enforcement activity takes place,” said Rios. “It’s also important to consider that in San Diego County, different police departments have different policies about how they collaborate with federal immigration agents.”
The 100-air mile reference has to do with Customs and Border Protection’s jurisdiction, which extends to 100 miles from any international border. As that includes maritime borders, CBP’s jurisdiction affects a good two-thirds of the United States’ population.
When Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly toured San Diego last week, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman reportedly asked him about the definition of a sanctuary city – to which he responded he doesn’t “have a clue,” writes the Associated Press.
Mexican citizens have been advised by their government to exercise extreme caution in the United States.
The Market for American Senior Care in Mexico Is Ripe
The high price of housing in San Diego affects seniors as badly as it does everyone else, and some developers and caretakers see an opportunity for more assisted-living centers and nursing homes across the border, reports VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan:
San Diego’s high housing costs don’t just impact our ability to rent our own apartments or purchase our own homes. They also raise the costs of assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and other care facilities. Baja is already a source of affordable housing for the San Diego region. Its lower health care, labor and real estate costs and proximity to the U.S. makes catering to California’s seniors a no-brainer business investment to many.
The View From Mexico
Mexico’s foreign minister Luis Videgaray told press Monday that there has been no significant rise in deportations from the United States to Mexico “yet,” and said that Mexican embassies have been overwhelmed by calls from concerned people in the United States.
Videgaray recently made headlines when reports emerged that he had helped Trump write a speech about the border wall — reports that White House officials denied and that Videgaray decried as “fake news.”
Meanwhile, thousands of people marched throughout Mexico Sunday to protest Trump and his immigration policies as well as his threats to make the country pay for a new border wall. They also joined existing gasolinazo protests — which have repeatedly shut down Tijuana’s El Chaparral border crossing into Mexico — to denounce Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and widespread corruption and impunity throughout all levels of the country’s government.
In Tijuana, demonstrators are also at the Palacio Municipal to protest corruption and poor local government services. On Saturday, people threw bags of trash at the building, which is the seat of Tijuana’s local government, saying that their garbage has not been picked up with any regularity since the end of November.
Another large demonstration, the Paro Internacional de Mujeres (Woman’s Strike), is planned for March 8. The international movement will have a presence in Tijuana.
Mayors Repeat Calls for Collaboration
Leaders from Tijuana and San Diego, including the cities’ mayors, have been meeting to discuss the region’s future, including binational infrastructure projects.
Voice of San Diego’s Sara Libby wrote over the weekend that there’s a big disconnect between San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s rhetoric about binational commerce and the news about families being ripped apart by deportations:
Raids are taking place across Southern California, and details like these are likely to keep coming out. I doubt many of the families watching someone being ripped from their home will be thinking about the “tremendous growth” of the border region or about preserving “the largest hub of medical device manufacturing in the world,” both cheery commerce-based anecdotes from Faulconer’s press conference.
Where Art, Community Leadership Converge
The Front, Casa Familiar’s arts and culture outreach program, will hold its 10th annual Art Docent exhibit at its gallery to showcase what young people have learned while participating in the program. The opening is on March 9.
The Front’s Art Docent program, in its own words, trains locals to take active roles in their communities.