Victor Clark-Alfaro, a lecturer at San Diego State and director of Tijuana’s Binational Center for Human Rights, began doing field work with human smugglers along the U.S-Mexico border in the late 1980s. In a Q-and-A, he discusses the business of smuggling people across the border, including the role of referrals and pricing and how it’s all changed in recent years.

The chief of San Diego’s Border Patrol section said he can’t disclose what agents look for before stopping someone, but that race and ethnicity don’t come into play. A review of enforcement actions recorded between 2011 and 2014, though, shows agents stopped people for sometimes ambiguous reasons like sitting up straight or driving slowly.

Border Patrol agents we spoke to aren’t sure how a border wall will change the dynamics between law enforcement and people trying to evade them. But drug tunnels, patches to the border fence and rings of concertina wire serve as reminders that for every measure taken to fortify the border, there have always been countermeasure to get around them.

Though plans for a border wall – a literal barricade dividing the U.S. and Mexico – are moving forward, the vision for a property just south of the existing border fence strives to connect Tijuana and San Diego more than ever by becoming a hub for where people from both sides of the border can live and work.

Both Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer have made public statements on the importance of strong ties between our cities and nations. But neither has taken a strong stance against the actual policies causing the economy and security of both cities to crack and fray.