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In September 2017, protesters rallied against President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would end the DACA program. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
In September 2017, protesters rallied against President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would end the DACA program. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

As the federal debate raged over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program granting deportation relief for those brought illegally to the U.S. as children, activists in San Diego rallied in the streets for their cause.

Dozens of immigrants and activists marched to the U.S.-Mexico border fence on Wednesday, the same day that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi read testimonies of DACA recipients, or Dreamers, for more than 8 hours and the Senate announced a budget deal that did not include DACA protections.

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Although the program is set to expire on March 5, lawmakers, according to Politico, are considering a temporary extension, possibly for one year, in exchange for border security funding if they can’t reach a broader deal.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, told NBC 7 during a visit to the border that he doesn’t think increased border security in exchange for DACA protections is a bad idea.

“They’ve taken the Dreamers hostage, and I say, ‘Pay the ransom,’” Gutierrez told NBC 7. “I don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to be expensive. It’s going to be a lot of border security.”

But that exchange is unconscionable for Dreamers living at the border, Dulce Garcia, an attorney and DACA recipient in San Diego, told me. Since Trump was elected, Garcia has been organizing and leading efforts of local activism over immigration policy. She’s even sued the federal government over its decision to rescind DACA in September.

Heightened border security has different repercussions in San Diego than in other parts of the country.

“It’s become a task to educate even other Dreamers in, like, Illinois or Ohio saying, ‘Yes, build that wall. Yes, put more agents at the border, as long as it’s not ICE agents invading our churches, raiding our communities,’” Garcia said. “If you’re an immigrant at the border, adding more agents along the border means more agents will be roaming around our neighborhoods.”

Garcia said it is “cruel” for politicians in Washington, D.C., to think that she and other Dreamers would sacrifice their immigrant communities for their own protections.

“I wouldn’t ever take a step forward that will only benefit me and it’s somehow punished my mom for her sacrifices,” Garcia said. “If anything, I’m more than grateful for what she gave up for me. I wouldn’t have been a lawyer in Mexico. I wouldn’t have accomplished nearly what I have so far.”

NPR put together a chart comparing different immigration and DACA proposals at the federal level, and the Miami Herald has a list of the seven lawmakers to watch as the immigration debate takes place in Congress.

The San Diego Border Dreamers are hosting an art benefit show at Bread & Salt on Friday. (La Prensa)

Sewage Solution Gets Sidetracked

For years, sewage from Tijuana has spilled across the border, fouled up the coast, sickened surfers and closed beaches. Recently, it’s seemed like federal officials in the United States and Mexico might finally fix the problem. But they appear to be sidetracked again.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said he’s heard that a major funder of cross-border projects is supporting a new desalination plant to provide drinking water to the Tijuana region. While the plant is intended to help ensure millions of people don’t go without water, it concerns some environmentalists on the American side because it might use up money that would otherwise fix Tijuana’s leaky sewer system. Desalination is one of the most expensive sources of drinking water available.

In a series of tweets, Dedina criticized the North American Development Bank, which helps fund projects along the border, for trying to fund the desalination plant. He also criticized the Otay Water District on the American side of the border for helping support the desalination project by trying to buy water from it.

— Ry Rivard

After a partial power failure at a treatment facility in Tijuana allowed roughly 560,000 gallons of sewer-contaminated runoff to flow through the Tijuana River across the border, beaches near the border are closed. (City News Service)

Homicide Resurgence Continues in Tijuana

Last week, a New York Times travel writer published a piece about all the things she ate in Tijuana. She wrote about how safe she felt and mistakenly noted that, despite a decades-long history of cartel clashes, violent crime was down.

Eventually the Times corrected the error, but still understated the gravity of what’s happening in Tijuana: “An earlier version of this article misstated the level of violent crime in Tijuana. While crimes like kidnapping have decreased, homicides have increased.”

Indeed, most of the killings have happened in impoverished and working-class neighborhoods not frequented by tourists and foreigners living in Baja. But the past two years have seen record levels of homicides in the city.

In 2017, there were a record number of 1,744 homicides, according to the Baja California Attorney General’s office. It nearly doubled the previous record of 910, set a year earlier.

That was one of the starkest increases in violence in Mexico. Nationally, the country also saw record levels of violence and murders in 2017.

The Justice in Mexico project at the University of San Diego recently released a policy brief on the rising homicides and other violent crimes in Tijuana. It mapped out where the killings were happening and gave policy suggestions for curbing the violence that include increased resources for social and economic development programs, community policing initiatives and drug prevention and rehabilitation programs.

Last week, a Mexican think tank, the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal justice, released a list of the 20 municipalities in Mexico with the most murders in the country. Tijuana is number five and Playas de Rosarito is number six. (El Universal)

Most of the violence in Tijuana has been attributed to the struggle to control the city’s street drug trade between the long-established Sinaloa cartel and a newer group known as the cartel Nueva Generacion Jalisco. InSight Crime has an analysis of the newer group, breaking down its presence in several Mexican states, including Baja California.

California Clashes with Feds over Border Wall

A ruling is expected this week in a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s effort to bypass environmental laws to build a wall along the U.S. Mexico border, reports the Union-Tribune.

The ruling will respond to three lawsuits from environmental groups and California that have been consolidated into one, alleging that the federal government did not have authority to waive compliance on a host of state environmental laws to expedite border construction projects. That includes the eight border wall prototypes that have already been built in Otay Mesa.

The federal judge who is hearing the case in San Diego was berated by President Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign for his handling of another lawsuit involving Trump University. (McClatchy)

An architect may also be taking the Trump administration to court over the wall, arguing the idea for a solar border wall was originally his. (Think Progress)

More Border News

The last “immigrant crossing” sign, which had been on the side of Interstate 5 near the San Ysidro border crossing, vanished in September. (Union-Tribune)

A coalition of San Diego officials, business leaders, academics and activists are trying to figure out how San Diego can be more welcoming to immigrants. The coalition has presented a report about how the county’s foreign-born population has boosted the region’s economy. (KPBS)

Federal prosecutors quietly dropped a case against a man accused of smuggling 77 unauthorized immigrants in the back of a fake UPS truck in Boulevard in early February. (Union-Tribune)

Former Major League Baseball pitcher and Tijuana native Esteban Antonio Loaiza was arrested Friday for allegedly possessing more than 44 pounds of narcotics with the intent to transport and sell it. (Zeta)

A landslide destroyed 89 homes and displaced dozens of families in Tijuana’s Lomas del Rubi neighborhood last week. (Union-Tribune)

ICE arrests across the country in 2017 went up by roughly 30 percent, according to Pew Research. The arrests increased by 24 percent in San Diego, which, while lower than the national average, was more than twice the number in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The leftist front-runner in Mexico’s presidential race bashed Trump’s planned border wall during a campaign stop in Tijuana last week, according to the Union-Tribune. Another Mexican presidential hopeful, María de Jesús Patricio Martinez, known as “Marichuy,” will be at Friendship Park this Saturday. Marichuy is the first indigenous woman to run for president in Mexico.

Maya Srikrishnan

Maya was Voice of San Diego’s Associate Editor of Civic Education. She reported on marginalized communities in San Diego and oversees Voice’s explanatory...

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