By Brandy Cochrane
A line of people snakes out in front and behind, evoking the geographical border which appears on the map between Mexico and the US, but this one leads south/north, not east/west. The weather is a dry 32 degrees Celsius even in late October and there is little shade to be found before the security gate. A small blind woman wonders through the crowd asking for change and a father plays a toy guitar badly while his children try to sell Chiclets and small toys to those waiting to get back to the States. People are weighed down by luggage and grocery bags full of belongings.
The electronic gate opens to allow through small groups of people at a time, making those who are waiting feel that all they need to do to cross is make it through that door. However, instead, you reach another queue in a large building with blotted out windows, concrete floors, and nowhere to sit. People are divided into three lines: one for those with special passes to allow them to cross easily, one line for the “general public,” and one line for those with disabilities. Even those with disabilities are not granted a bench to sit on during the almost two-hour wait at the San Ysidro border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana. This is the busiest border crossing in the world and this Friday was no exception.
Everyone in the line is weary and sweaty and ready to go through—children are crying and teenagers are talking loudly to pass the time. Two armed men wonder through the lines, staring down everyone and even the teenagers quiet when they come near. No one wants to have to start over again at the end of the line or be taken aside for questioning.
As someone who has studied border crossing for several years and has travelled to many countries where I crossed borders on planes, trains, and automobiles, but had never crossed a border on foot, my recent trek to southern California gave me the excuse to experience it. Walking into Mexico was barely a process—a long walk down a corridor, a few border guards, and a drug-sniffing dog dotted the landscape. No lines, no stopping, no long looks of suspicion.
Coming back through was a completely different story. Because we were crossing on foot, instead of by car, I was given no basic comforts of even shade for the first half of my wait. This process of border securitization and extreme measures serve to strike fear into people and make them as uncomfortable as possible. Even I, as a white US citizen, was at the end of my rope by the time I reached the front of the line. I imagined coming up against this border as someone was not white and whose travel may have been deemed illegal by the United States. The experience of the elderly and pregnant women and what those with children might be feeling weighed heavily on me. While experiencing this was important in my own understanding of borders, the reality that people crossed back and forth across this border weekly and sometimes even daily was quite an awakening.
Find out more:
Sponsor Checks To Stop Family Violence For CALD Women Missing the Mark
Marie Segrave, DECRA Fellow and researcher with the Border Crossing Observatory and Monash Gender and … Continue reading Sponsor Checks To Stop Family Violence For CALD Women Missing the Mark
New handbook links criminology and human rights
Monash’s Border Crossing Observatory criminologists have made significant contributions to a groundbreaking publication linking criminology and … Continue reading New handbook links criminology and human rights
Professor Sharon Pickering presents Fay Gale Lecture
Professor Sharon Pickering, was honoured on Tuesday night to present the annual Fay Gale Lecture, hosted … Continue reading Professor Sharon Pickering presents Fay Gale Lecture
The Border Observatory’s Dr Marie Segrave at AAS High Flyers Think Tank
The Border Observatory’s Dr Marie Segrave was selected to take part in the recent Australian … Continue reading The Border Observatory’s Dr Marie Segrave at AAS High Flyers Think Tank
Border Observatory research contributes to RN program on remittances
Findings from the Samoa case study that formed part of the Fluid Security in the … Continue reading Border Observatory research contributes to RN program on remittances
Seeing borders from the perspectives of criminology and visual arts
Associate Professor Leanne Weber joined visual artists and curators to discuss contemporary borders at a public … Continue reading Seeing borders from the perspectives of criminology and visual arts
BOb at the launch of the OSCE Gender Equality Platform for Border Security and Management
Rebecca Powell, Managing-Director of Monash’s Border Crossing Observatory, attended and presented at the Launch Meeting of … Continue reading BOb at the launch of the OSCE Gender Equality Platform for Border Security and Management
New book published by Border Crossing Observatory Team
A team of researchers from the Border Crossing Observatory has co-authored a new book that … Continue reading New book published by Border Crossing Observatory Team
How To Overcome The Major Argument Behind Australia’s Refugee Policies
By Leanne Weber While Australian Border Force officers hover in hospital corridors waiting to spirit … Continue reading How To Overcome The Major Argument Behind Australia’s Refugee Policies
Criminology’s Marie Segrave co-edits Anti-Trafficking Review special issue
Monash’s Dr Marie Segrave (Criminology), recently edited a Special Issue of Anti-Trafficking Review, focused on … Continue reading Criminology’s Marie Segrave co-edits Anti-Trafficking Review special issue
How and why people become involved in asylum seeker smuggling
The Border Crossing Observatory and Monash School of Social Sciences‘ Antje Missbach recently published an article in SOJOURN (Journal … Continue reading How and why people become involved in asylum seeker smuggling
The ‘count border deaths’ campaign from the Border Crossing Observatory
The Border Crossing Observatory launched the ‘Count border deaths’ campaign in 2012 in an effort … Continue reading The ‘count border deaths’ campaign from the Border Crossing Observatory