Jun 082013

This 30 minute video (narrated in Spanish with English subtitles) looks at the vexed situation of Mexican workers that have been deported from the USA back into Mexico. About 200 migrants are deported daily. Almost all are male,. Many of them have lived for several years in the USA prior to deportation, and some have wives and families still living north of the border.

About 45% of all migrants from Mexico to the USA crossed the border between Tijuana and California. Since 1994 (Operation Gatekeeper) crossing the border has been made progressively more difficult. The border is now heavily protected with border guards given access to technology such as night-vision telescopes and a network of seismic monitors (to detect the minor ground movements that signal people walking or running through the desert). As the US economy ran into problems a few years ago, the flow of migrants north slowed down, even as authorities in the US launched more raids against undocumented workers, leading to an increase in the number of workers deported.

In the video, a range of stakeholders are given the chance to explain how they see the problems faced by deportees. A social anthropologist provides some background and academic insights; activists explain their position and how they seek to help deportees; several individual deportees share their experiences and invite us into their “homes”, precarious one-room shacks, some built partially underground, hobbit-like, in “El Bordo”, a section of the canalized channel of the Tijuana River that runs alongside the international border.

The garbage-strewn El Bordo has sometimes housed as many as 4,000 deportees. Mexican authorities are anxious to clean the area up and periodically bulldoze any shacks they find.

These personal stories of workers from interior states such as Puebla are harrowing. Many still seek “the dream” and openly admit they do not want to return to their families as a “defeated person”.

While parts of this video might have benefited from tighter editing, the accounts are thought-provoking and the video is an outstanding resource to use with classes considering the longer-term impacts of international migration.

There seems little doubt that a majority of the “residents” of El Bordo has a serious drug problem, and the video includes interviews about this issue with municipal police, deportees and aid workers, who discuss the problems and suggest some possible solutions, but ultimately, the city and state authorities have some tough decisions to make if they are to resolve this serious, and growing, humanitarian problem.

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  2 Responses to “Deported migrants set up home in Tijuana canal”

  1. It’s quite hard to watch some of that, seeing the misery, and interesting to see the different sides of it.

    People living in tunnels dug out of the mud sides of a concrete canal. Those people are at the bottom of the scale for free people outside of a war zone.

    At least it was good to see that the state is attempting to help them, with clean needles and so on.

    I thought it was very well done. Thanks very much.

  2. We certainly hoped our readers would find it thought-provoking. We rarely link to videos longer than 5 or 6 minutes, but considered this a worthwhile exception. Glad you found it interesting.

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