The Biden administration has flown around 2,000 asylum seekers from Texas to San Diego to be expelled across the border into Tijuana, all of whom are families with children. Many were never given a chance to tell their stories to Border Patrol, and many reported inconsistent and arbitrary decisions made by CBP.
Some Remain in Mexico enrollees are being allowed into the United States as of Friday, February 19, first at the San Diego port of entry and later through Brownsville and El Paso as well. Processing will be slow at first, with only a few hundred entering per day.
Border Patrol agents seized a drone carrying 1 pound of methamphetamine that crashed onto a roof in San Diego. Drone smuggling has increased in recent years as the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible.
- Cross-border coronavirus cases increase in southern California as coronavirus patients from Mexico come to the border to call an ambulance in order to receive treatment. Josiah Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas notes that “the wall is an illusion, because the two sides are really woven together.” Officials estimate about a quarter of a million U.S. citizens live across the border in the Mexican state of Baja California.
- San Diego sector CBP agents pose atop a vigil to George Floyd in a now-deleted tweet by San Diego Border Patrol Sector Chief Aaron Meitke. The photo raises questions about how exactly CBP is assisting local law enforcement during protests.
- Voice of San Diego reports on increasing immigration checkpoints in rural northeastern San Diego, California. It focuses on the racial profiling and improper treatment of people by CBP agents.
- In San Diego, Border Patrol agents revoke the SENTRI pass used by daily cross-border commuter Robert Bianchi when he refused to remove his mask. Bianchi states that the agents were not wearing masks and were not adhering to social distancing guidelines.
- Immigration detainees inside the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego begin a hunger strike to protest the lack of health care precautions that has led to the largest ICE detention outbreak in the country. Detainees are unable to maintain social distancing and the ill are being told to gargle salt water by maskless and gloveless guards before being sent back to their “pods” with no COVID-19 testing taking place.
- The San Diego-Tijuana Smart Border Coalition announces plans for more secure and efficient travel through ports of entry in the region, which have close to 150,000 travelers per day. The Coalition encourages San Diego County to expand its public health system binationally to support community members in Tijuana. The Baja Medical Cluster in Tijuana is leading an initiative to set up pedestrian filters near the ports of entry, but more binational collaboration is needed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. So far, there is no evidence of a single case in Tijuana.
- Tijuana Mayor Arturo Gonzalez Cruz is working with Baja California state officials in Mexico to implement better health checks for those crossing the border on foot each day to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. For years, many residents of Tijuana have crossed into the San Diego, California, area daily for work or school. Now, residents are concerned about bringing the coronavirus home to Mexico, which has 12 confirmed cases while the U.S. has over 1,000 and dozens of deaths.
- Senior CBP officials announce they are sending 80 soldiers to El Paso, Texas, and 80 to San Diego, California, in response to the recent court ruling preventing the government from enforcing the Remain in Mexico program after March 11. While sent to provide support to officers at official ports of entry, these 160 soldiers are not expected to conduct immigration processing or enforcement.
- Chief Patrol Agent of the San Diego sector Aaron Heitke announces that three women died in a remote part of the Laguna Mountains. Members of the 5- person group called 911 in the early afternoon suffering of hypothermia. CPB did not reach the victims until three hours after the initial call for help, and two of the three women were already unresponsive. All three were declared deceased by the early evening. The two men who survived were arrested by CPB.
- Near Tijuana, protestors set on fire a figure representing President Trump during a gathering by the border wall for the anniversary of the 1848 Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty. Sergio Tamai, leader of the organization Ángeles sin Fronteras, demanded the Trump administration stop slandering the Mexican people and urged President Andrés Manuel López Obrador not to yield to U.S. pressure. Tijuana police and firefighters monitored the event but did not intervene or make arrests.
- Filmmakers Luis Gutiérrez Arias and John Henry Theisen release a documentary, It’s Going to Be Beautiful, portraying the border wall design contest that the Trump administration held near Tijuana in 2017. All eight winning border prototypes reportedly failed the basic breach test and posed “significant and expensive construction challenges.” The prototypes alone reportedly cost Customs and Border Protection $3.3 million.
- The U.S. Border Patrol discovered one of the longest smuggling tunnels ever found on the Southwest border in the Tijuana, Mexico/San Diego area. It is about 5.5 feet tall and 2 feet wide and runs at an average depth of 70 feet below the surface. With features like an extensive rail cart system, forced air ventilation, and high voltage electrical cables and panels, the tunnel exposes the limitations in President Trump’s border wall.
- The Trump administration announces Rodney Scott is the new chief of Border Patrol. Scott will replace Chief Carla Provost. The former chief of the San Diego sector, Scott oversaw the implementation of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” and family separation policies while there. Scott also helped bring Operation Streamline to San Diego, which vastly increases prosecutions in the criminal justice system for illegal entry misdemeanors.