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Maya Srikrishnan's biweekly roundup of stories on the border, immigration and the San Diego-Baja California region (Mondays)
Food and beer politics, a key figure in the case of the 43 missing Mexican students surfaces and national reporters drop in to observe the border wall and the agents who patrol it.
A week after a truck with a suspected drunk driver at the wheel plummeted from the Coronado Bridge into the La Raza Run at Chicano Park, leaving four dead and several injured, a store in Barrio Logan held a fundraiser for the victims’ families to help with funeral expenses. Mesheeka, an art gallery, clothing store and ice cream shop, raised funds on Saturday with an ice cream social, raffles and music.
A memorial to Andre Banks, Francine Denise Jimenez and AnneMarie and Cruz Contreras that sprang up the night of the crash now sprawls over part of the park. A crisis intervention team from the San Diego Police Department has been called in to help witnesses and survivors.
The driver of the truck, 24-year-old Richard Sepolio from Pasadena, Texas, faces up to 24 years in prison.
Members of the community are asking for better safety measures on the bridge after the crash.
“All we’re asking is for please, as soon as possible, to get some … high rails so that we won’t ever have to have something like this happen again,” Tomasa “Tommie” Camarillo told reporters, saying that this is not the first time vehicles or objects have plunged through the bridge.
State Sen. Ben Hueso has said he thinks a measure on the November ballot could help bring funds to bolster safety on the bridge.
The truck landed in a crowded area of the park just feet from a busy playground.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has a plan for the border that separates the United States and Mexico: build a wall. Or build more wall. Either way, Trump wants Mexico to pay for it. It’s not entirely clear what that plan entails, but it isn’t popular among residents of the border.
Even in Arizona, despite what appears to be widespread support for tighter border controls in the state, residents appear to consider building more walls a waste of time and money. A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows that 47 percent of Arizona residents consider it a “waste of money,” and 34 percent said that it would be an “effective barrier.” (A poll in Florida turned up similar results, as did a national CNN telephone questionnaire.)
What can you learn by spending a week at the border wall?
First and foremost, notes Fusion’s Alexis Madrigal, that — despite the “build the wall” rhetoric championed by Trump and others, a border wall already exists. That the existing wall is an environmental disaster. That knowledge, understanding and compassion are the only antidotes to the culture of fear that seems to propel talk of stronger controls.
An outsider has taken the reins of the Border Patrol for the first in nearly a century, reports the L.A. Times. The former FBI agent, Marine, and Los Angeles police officer has a reformer’s mindset, but Mark Morgan hasn’t been accepted uncritically as the organization’s new chief. Morgan says he wants to address the violence, corruption and bribery scandals that have recently plagued Border Patrol.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, spent a long and excruciating 10 hours with one of the Border Patrol’s few female agents.
A lecturer at San Diego State University is reviving the fight to rid the university of its Aztec Warrior mascot. American Indian Studies professor Ozzie Monge, who wrote his thesis about the “Aztec Warrior” mascot, says it isn’t just a matter of cultural appropriation: It’s also inaccurate, as the American southwest was never Aztec country.
SDSU briefly changed its mascot in 2002 from Monty Montezuma, who wore a headdress and threws spears, to Ambassador Montezuma, who wore more authentic clothing and discussed the historical contributions and culture of the Aztecs. The new mascot was a flop, and SDSU debuted (or re-debuted) the Aztec Warrior a year and a half later.
The former police chief of Iguala in Mexico’s Guerrero state has been arrested while visiting his wife, after apparently having spent two years on the run. Felipe Flores headed the police department on Sept. 26, 2014, the night 43 students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Normal School (a teacher training college in the town of Ayotzinapa) vanished after police confronted them. One student’s body appeared in a field the next day, showing signs of torture. There has been no sign of the others since.
Flores vanished not long after the students did, and has long been considered a key to finding out exactly what happened during that long night. For the past two years, the investigation has been filled with half-truths, inconsistencies, and rumors, with many critics both inside and out of Mexico despairing that the students may never be found.
Tijuana’s plan to completely revamp the San Ysidro border crossing could extinguish a rich food culture that has sprung up around the lines to cross into the United States. The San Ysidro Port of Entry is the busiest land crossing in the Western Hemisphere, and perhaps the world, with some 25,000 people crossing on foot and twice that in cars.
About 1,600 people work in an artisan market near the crossing, which, it’s now rumored, will be demolished — taking their businesses down with it, Alex Zaragoza reports for NPR.
Popular Mexicali brewers Cucapá have been trolling the Trump campaign for weeks now, selling T-shirts in Los Angeles that appeared to say “I support Donald,” but revealed a different message in the heat: “Donald el que lo lea,” or “Whoever reads this is a Donald” and adding a red clown nose to Trump’s face.
The brewery released a video of the prank, then threw a party with the proceeds in Mexico City called “La Fiesta Que Pagó Donald!” (“The Party Donald Paid For!”). They say that they also plan to use proceeds to fund a beer giveaway across Mexico so that — in their words — “every Mexican gets a beer paid for by Donald Trump.”