Crossing Borders

One City College student’s daily routine getting to and from school in one of America’s busiest border towns

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Crossing Borders

A long line of people snaking around dividers to get through Customs is an everyday occurrence for some individuals. Photo credit: Joe Kendall

A long line of people snaking around dividers to get through Customs is an everyday occurrence for some individuals. Photo credit: Joe Kendall

A long line of people snaking around dividers to get through Customs is an everyday occurrence for some individuals. Photo credit: Joe Kendall

A long line of people snaking around dividers to get through Customs is an everyday occurrence for some individuals. Photo credit: Joe Kendall

Laura Sanchez

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The Tijuana-San Diego border is a nonstop pumping vessel. It never sleeps.

Thousands of people flood the border every morning as part of their daily routine. When most San Diegans are tossing and turning to get out of bed, most of our Tijuana neighbors have already tackled the dreadfulness of the borderline wait.

The San Ysidro-Puerta Mexico Port of Entry is the world’s busiest international land border crossing, one of the three points of entry. About 40,000 people crossed northbound by car and on foot during 2013, according to the San Diego Association of Governments.

Tijuana is home to many of our classmates and coworkers — individuals who go through a daily trek to sustain the border lifestyle — living there, working here. Dollars are worth more in Tijuana’s standard of living, and that’s enticing for many in this economy, why pay more for less? Tijuana offers many the opportunity to live in a larger place for a much cheaper price, however, it’s her spirit that keeps them there.

Those students and employees are willing to sacrifice a few hours of their day to make the trip from one border city to the other. It’s a love-hate relationship, but as many Tijuana residents would say, she’s worth it.

We accompanied one of those border students on his daily morning trek. His name is Rafael Villegas, a San Diego City College student. He wants to receive a certificate in computer science. We stood in line with him for about two hours, then followed him on his bus route to City. He shared with us his relationship with Tijuana. She is everyone’s mistress, but as Rafael explained to us, San Diego provides them all with security.

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  • Drivers wait to cross over the San Ysidro-Puerta Mexico Port of entry in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

    Photo by Joe Kendall

  • A long line of people snaking around dividers to get through Customs is an everyday occurrence for some individuals. Photo credit: Joe Kendall

  • “... the only downside is that you have to wake up like two hours before coming to school ’cause you don’t know if you’ll have to wait much in line. So you have to be ready for everything and there’s times you won’t make it. But the good thing is that you don’t pay as much rent as here. You get to see two cultures in action in the morning, how everything starts a new day. Two communities that are so close but so different.” 9:37 a.m.

    Photo by Joe Kendall

  • “I start my day two hours earlier. I drive my car to the border and just leave it over there and I just cross walking ’cause it’s faster, and then just take the trolley to school.”
 From 7:56 a.m. start of line to 10:06 a.m., crossed border.

    Photo by Joe Kendall

  • “There’s something about that place (TJ) that just makes you start your own critical thinking and see how you can express yourself and reach out to other people. It’s just different.” 
 10:08 a.m., got on trolley in San Ysidro.

    Photo by Joe Kendall

  • “The distance between things is so big. It’s a first world country right so you feel it… everyone is trying to get a piece of that money. They want something more and I don’t know, I just hate that kind of thinking in this kind of world that we live in, that everything has to be like, you just fight, not fight, but you just take what you can for others.” 11:01 a.m., arrived to City College stop.

    Photo by Joe Kendall

  • “My heart is over there (TJ); even when I graduate and when I get my real job ... I’ll just probably get a Sentri and just cross back and forth everyday. You just get a sense of freedom you don’t get over here (in San Diego).”
 7:56 a.m., start of line in TJ; 11:06 a.m., arrived at City.

    Photo by Joe Kendall

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