Border Stories

The Wall to Nowhere

Border wall cuts through former transborder communities east of Tecate, Baja California Norte. Abandoned homes and overgrown roads leave traces of the vital community life that once existed.

By the mid-1990s, the border between San Diego and Tijuana became ground zero in national debates about immigration control. In 1996, in response to the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act by Congress, the planning began for a 14-mile border infrastructure system project in San Diego County (U.S. Congress 1996). The IIRIRA authorized the U.S. Attorney General to plan construction of a 14-mile “triple fence” in San Diego County, consisting of two new fences to augment the existing primary fence put in place by Operation Gatekeeper in 1994.  On July 25, 2002 California Representative Duncan Hunter added a rider to the Homeland Security bill that would make construction of the new triple border fence between San Diego and Mexico a priority of the new Department of Homeland Security (U.S. Congress 2002).

San Diego County border wall travels up Tecate Peak

Construction was completed on the eight-tenths of a mile section of border wall at Tecate Peak in the fall and winter of 2008.  On our March 22, 2009 visit, we observed severe erosion and several recently repaired washouts which had tumbled large sections of the border wall along the path it traverses up to Tecate Peak.

Most telling was a warranty label posted on the new fence panel, indicating the contractor would assume liability for only one year. The mountain, sacred to the Kumeyaay Indians of San Diego & Baja California, is located one mile north of the U.S. Mexico border and just 1-2 miles west/southwest of the city of Tecate, BC, Mexico.