29 March 2014

Border Stories Saturday: Life In the Deportee Slums of Mexico

Río Tijuana from one of the pedestrian bridges. People live all along there. Many deportees from the US live there.
When I first came into Tijuana, we used to walk from the border to the Centro to catch a bus to the house. From the San Ysidro Point of Entry, you have to walk across the Río Tijuana on the pedestrian bridge. The smell is horrendous and it is the smell that Cecilia describes as "Mexico". The sewer dumps into the river as it flows to the Pacific Ocean. This itself is a huge environmental problem faced on both sides of the border. But today, the most horrific problem is the amount of people living in this wasteland. The majority of these homeless campers are deportees from the US. They are people who arrived and after their few days at Casa del Migrante, have had to take to the streets. 

When someone arrives after a US removal, they have no identification- no US ID and no Mexican ID. These are the shadow people. It's like they are illegal in their own country. And Hector almost ended up there if it wasn't for my parents. My mom's cash advance on her credit card allowed us to get an apartment for Hector, where he ended up staying for almost his entire first year in TJ. That apartment allowed him access to a kind old man who helped him get an ID and become established in Mexico. Thousands are not so lucky.

If you have half an hour or so, I recommend you watch the above documentary. It shows what it is like for these people. As a sign of how close we were to ending up like the thousands of other, there is a man in this documentary being harassed by the police. His back is broken and he is homeless. Hector knew him. These are not just "bums" "drug addicts" or "homeless." They are people with families and lives that have been destroyed.

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