As part of our road trip through the western states of the US, Shirley and I found ourselves at the US / Mexico border this week, at the Tijuana / San Ysidro crossing – and a single image struck me as being somewhat emblematic of the relationship.
We were just near the larger of two pedestrian exit points from Mexico to the US, and I happened to glance across to the Mexican side of the border.
Consider the view.
There’s a large American flag in the foreground – reminding people on both sides of the border who has the ‘whip hand’ here.
In the middle ground, there’s a Mexican flag – and that flag is HYUUGE, to paraphrase Donald Trump. In fact, I’d estimate it to be double the size of the US flag – but because you see this view from US soil, that’s not as obvious as it might be.
In between the two? The Wall. A permanent, unyielding barrier between the two countries.
Tens of thousands of Mexicans cross this border each day – but they are funneled through two pedestrian crossings (one with 16 gates, one with just three) – and each one is checked by Customs and Border Patrol officers before they are allowed to pass.
Or they might drive across the border – but the average delay is around 60 minutes.That’s an hour, just to be allowed to cross to work each day.
And make no mistake, the workers are all flowing one way.
There is no doubt where the wealth lies in this relationship. Consider the other thing you see in this image – parking for the outlet shops, which are growing like Topsy on the San Ysidro side of the wall .. a perfect example of the impact of capital expansion.
And there’s also the bus – which shuttles workers to the nearby trolley, which in turn takes them into San Diego’s factories, workshops and shipyards.
And construction sites, and hotels, and homes and gardens and restaurants and markets and farms and fields.
And then brings them home again each night.
Repeat, 30 million times a year.