San Diego Built a Bridge Over Its Border Wall

8/17/2016 Real Clear World 

WASHINGTON - MARCH 27:  A protester holds an American flag and a Mexican flag while participating in a protest on the west front of the U.S. Capitol March 27, 2006 in Washington, DC. Thousands of immigration advocates rallied on Capitol Hill to protest the immigration bill that is before Congress.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – MARCH 27: A protester holds an American flag and a Mexican flag while participating in a protest on the west front of the U.S. Capitol March 27, 2006 in Washington, DC. Thousands of immigration advocates rallied on Capitol Hill to protest the immigration bill that is before Congress. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

This piece was created in collaboration with The Wilson Center. Andrew Selee is the founding director of The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

The idea of building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico has gained traction again in this election year. The timing may be a little unusual: Illegal immigration from Mexico is negligible these days, with the overall unauthorized population dropping noticeably since 2008. Further, for the first time in decades, there are almost certainly more Mexicans leaving the United States than coming here.

City leaders in San Diego, America’s seventh largest city and the only one in the top 10 governed by a Republican mayor, have actually pursued a different approach to the border. Instead of asking for a higher wall, San Diego’s leaders decided to build a bridge over the piece of wall they already had. That bridge, a futuristic structure spanning majestically over the border fence below, allows San Diegans to use Tijuana’s much larger airport to take flights to Asia and Latin America. Since it was inaugurated in December 2015, San Diego flyers have been able to check into their flights on the U.S. side of the pedestrian bridge, walk across into Mexico, going through immigration and customs as they go, and head straight to their gate at the General Abelardo L. Rodriguez Airport in Tijuana.

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