The fate of the Trump administration’s “big, beautiful” border wall, which would begin in San Diego and meander eastward, is not entirely clear after it failed to secure funding in the latest government spending measure. Democrats (and some Republicans) strongly oppose the $21 billion construction cost, if not the concept altogether. The government did allocate more than $1 billion to maintain and patch existing border barriers, but nothing to construct a concrete wall along the border. The debate will reconvene during the next round of budget negotiations, in September.
Despite the debate over funding, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it has selected finalists to construct the new wall, but it is not yet naming them publicly. Meanwhile, there have been repeated protests at the site of one local construction company that bid to construct the wall, R.E. Staite.
One group of architects in Texas has released a particularly Panopticonesque design for the wall consisting of one-way Plexiglass: It would allow the United States to see into Mexico, without Mexico seeing into the United States. (It seems that the architects didn’t think this one completely through.)
Violence, Women and … Food?
Miriam Rodriguez, a high-profile activist who organized the relatives of the disappeared in northern Mexico and was part of the Citizen Community in Search of the Disappeared in Tamaulipas after her own daughter went missing, was shot and killed on Mother’s Day in Mexico (May 10). It is yet another chilling message to activists throughout the country. Rodriguez had been part of the Caravana Contra el Miedo — the Caravan Against Fear — which made a stop in San Diego last month.
Tijuana’s homicide rate has gone up considerably since 2015. More than 500 murders have been reported since the beginning of the year, and that number shows no signs of falling. Ev Meade of the Trans-Border Institute told NBC that at least some of the new violence is because of a turf war between international cartels. “It was all about the international market, all about the border,” he said. “Now that’s changed, and it has changed all over Mexico, but Tijuana is one of the places (domestic drug violence) is really showing up.”
Experts say that at least some of that violence is due to issues within Mexico’s infrastructure, which includes policing and crime management, as well as sheltering the thousands of people who came to Tijuana from all over the world to seek refuge in the United States.
While the correlation may be coincidence, crime spikes or major infrastructure problems in Baja California are quickly followed by stories about the undeniably delicious wine and food in the region, planted there by savvy public relations teams who know the value of wining and dining perennially broke international reporters.
The body of a woman thought to be in her 40s was discovered in a vacant lot in Mexicali over the weekend, stoking fears of an upswing in feminicides in Baja California. Her death is under investigation. At least seven women are killed every day in Mexico, according to reports.
(Femicide is a specific term that means women who are killed and mutilated by men simply because they are women. Feminicide is a political term, preferred by many activists, which encompasses not just the crimes but the cultures of impunity that surround and enable them.)
Infrastructure and Immigration
Drivers are encountering more and more traffic driving into Tijuana. U.S. Customs and Border Protection plays a role in the jams as officers conduct random inspections and lane closures for those attempting to drive into the country. In typical CBP fashion, the agency is not commenting on the frequency, timing or duration of the inspections, but told KPBS it is part of a crackdown against human and weapons trafficking.
Members of the Viacrucis de Refugiados, who traveled through Mexico from Central America together in order to turn themselves in at the U.S. border to seek asylum en masse, are still being held in immigration detention in San Ysidro.
For many Southern California deportees, Casa del Migrante is the first stop in a long journey.