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An Update on the US Mexico Border Situation

The More Things Change

By Everyday JunglistPublished 2 months ago 7 min read
For the geographically challenged a helpful map. Image by license from adobe stock.

Introduction

As you go through life there are things you experience everyday that together form the reality of your world . Because you experience them personally and directly, you generally accept them as true and accurate. As a (hopefully) mostly sane and rational human you recognize that you may be being deceived and/or that what you are experiencing is not all there is. Moreover, you also recognize that other people's experiences, even in the same situation as you, are different then yours. However, even given those limitations of perspective, you feel that you understand the world you live in. You know, for example, that when you get in the car to go somewhere else, that you will be coming home later in the same condition as you left, alive, and unhurt. You know that you will not need to don body armor, or dodge a hail of gunfire as you swerve through crowded streets choked with smoke from burning barrels as far as the eye can see.

Thus it is very disconcerting when what you know about the place you live is in such disconnect from what everyone else believes about the place you live. It makes it difficult to know where even to begin when talking about it. A large number of disclaimers is as good a place as any I guess.

Disclaimers

1. In this post I am speaking almost exclusively about one (very important) border crossing (San Ysidro) which connects the cities of Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja, California to San Diego in the US state of California and happens to be the busiest land border crossing by volume of cars and people in the world. I rarely use either of the two other northern Mexico-southern California border crossings of Otay Mesa and Tecate and thus cannot comment on the situation there, nor have I ever entered into the US or into Mexico at any of the many Arizona or Texas based crossings.

2. My view of the situation is greatly circumscribed, as is everyone's, by my own limited perspective. This basically consists of a border crosser by car using the Sentri lanes to enter the US a few times a week. While my wife spent almost nine months crossing on foot when she first moved to Mexico I have only ever had that pleasure on thee or four occasions and I have almost no idea what is happening with pedestrian crossings. All I can say is the lines I see from my car when crossing are as long or longer than ever so I don't think much has changed.

3. My knowledge of Mexico (outside of the northern part of the state of Baja, California) is almost as extensive as my knowledge of the format or lineup of Dancing with the Stars, that is to say, virtually non-existent. On the few occasions I have told someone who lives in mainland Mexico that I too live in Mexico, in Baja, they have each replied with "oh, you don't really live in Mexico." It seems most mainland Mexicans view Baja, California a lot like most Americans view Mississippi or Alabama, a backwoods, backwards, no mans land populated by rednecks, hillbillies, and foreigners. It gets almost as much attention and financial assistance from the federal government in Mexico City as the above mentioned US states get from Washington, D.C. What it does get from Mexico city is a heavy military presence. This is mostly designed (I think) as a sop to US hardliners to show that Mexico is "taking the border security situation seriously" but also as a way to gently "remind" Baja residents and politicians that any thoughts of secession or forming special ties with the US will not be tolerated.

4. Hopefully this is obvious, but feel l like I need to say it anyway.

I have no special knowledge or access to US intelligence/law enforcement data on the level of serious crimes like drug trafficking, smuggling, or cartel activities, and if these levels have or have not changed. No idea if those numbers have gone down, up, or remained stable. Ultimately it does not matter because no matter what those numbers might say they would not be a factor in my analysis of the situation, unless it impacted my limited perspective in some way, which, to my knowledge, it has not.

5. The status of legal or illegal immigration from Mexico into the US is not a factor in my analysis. Very few illegals attempt to cross directly at Ysidro because it is very, very difficult or actually impossible to sneak across there either on foot or by car, and even claiming asylum at Ysidro has been made almost impossible by other changes in the logistics of how foot and car traffic is handled right at the border. Even if there were illegals crossing by the score, it would not be a factor in my analysis unless such crossing impacted my limited perspective in some way, which, since it is not happening, has not, and even if it were, likely would not.

OK. with those out of the way we can begin.

Areas of Improvement

a. CBP attitude and general demeanor

Not sure why the change or maybe the change is more in me then them but CBP agents have seemed more relaxed, open, welcoming and even friendly in the past six months or so. Of all my criticisms this one is the most subjective and therefore the least reliable. Don't forget disclaimers #1 and #2 above

b. Wait times to get into the US

Have dropped or at least stopped increasing for entry into the US by car from Sentri lanes. There can still be some abysmally long waits but these have become more rare. Can't speak to what is happening with Ready and General lanes. Again, do not forget disclaimers #1 and #2 above.

c. Traffic management on the Tijuana side

Mexican authorities have done a good job of handling some extremely difficult circumstances including natural disasters and a huge amount of road work currently happening at or near the border. It has made the difference in preventing what could have been a complete and total cluster fuck and instead has only been a very shitty crapfest. Do not forget disclaimers #1 and #2 once again. When are the other disclaimers going to come into play you may be asking yourself. Just hold on because here they come.

d. General decision making

I feel like at a high level decision making overall has improved. Why do I feel that way? Just a feeling really. Do not forget all of the disclaimers above.

Areas of Backsliding

a. Specific decision making

See (b) below

b. Construction, construction, construction

I have to scratch my head at the decision by Mexico to initiate several very large construction projects at or near the border at the exact same time. I understand the desire to get it all done and out of the way but gheesh. Credit to someone for ballsiness if not thoughtfulness.

c. Wait times to get into Mexico

Have gotten much, much longer. It really sucks. I do not fault the Mexican authorities as their procedures have not changed. It is primarily the result of increased volume of people trying to get into Mexico and (b) above which has jammed everything up along the border in both directions.

d. Road quality on the Mexico side

Potholes inside potholes featuring interior potholes are more and more common on streets that previously only featured potholes inside potholes with rocks at the bottom. Mostly I think this is related to (b) and hopefully things will improve to pothhole only level once complete.

Areas That Remain (Sadly) the Same

a. Misinformation, half-truths, subtle deceits, outright falsehoods and propaganda remain the primary forms of communication with respect to the situation at the border.

US News organizations, including local news in San Diego area which should know better, continue their absolutely abysmal record of reporting in any way accurately about the border, and global media seem to do only a marginally better, though still terrible job.

b. Fear of (basically non-existent) violence and (barely existent) crime at the border, and in northern Baja (Tijuana and Rosarito specifically)

This is still way out of proportion to actual violence and crime and is the direct result of (a) above. I am not naïve enough to suggest that Tijuana is the safest city in the world for residents, particularly in some of the most poverty stricken areas, but for those with money, expats, tourists, and in the areas right near and adjacent to the border, crime and violence are essentially non-issues. Turn on your local evening news in the US and the border is often depicted as a warzone. The streets are clogged with out of control fires burning in barrels as far as the eye can see, and a hail of bullets are flying in all directions as unlucky, bullet proof armor wearing residents and police duck for cover behind junked cars and abandoned buildings. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I still have yet to see a single, non intentionally set fire anywhere near the border (other than the small ones set by the homeless for cooking), nor have I heard nor seen a single gunshot in my close to 2 years now of crossing regularly. As I regularly point out, unlike in the US, guns are illegal in Mexico, and are only carried by the police, military, and the cartels. Their war remains, at least in Baja, almost exclusively underground, and invisible to the civilian population. I have noted before and will say again that much of the stock footage aired on many US television news outlets when discussing the border was clearly not shot in Tijuana. The topography, geography, and architecture is not correct, and actually appears to be from the Middle East. Some of it may be from the first gulf war and I believe may actually be footage of the streets of Baghdad post the fall of Sadam Hussein. Other footage I have seen appears to have been shot in Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict. In any case, it is not from Tijuana, Mexico and any news organizations that are too lazy or incompetent to check the accuracy of their stock footage deserve to be called out for this massive dereliction of the basic duty of journalistic accuracy and integrity.

c. That stupid eyesore of a border wall

Yep. Still there, as ugly and stupid as ever. To paraphrase Ronald Regan "Mr. somebody or other in power, tear down that wall."

Humanity

About the Creator

Everyday Junglist

Practicing mage of the natural sciences (Ph.D. micro/mol bio), Thought middle manager, Everyday Junglist, Boulderer, Cat lover, No tie shoelace user, Humorist, Argan oil aficionado. Occasional LinkedIn & Facebook user

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