The Tijuana River courses through 1,750 square miles of southern California and Mexico. Its impacts on surrounding border communities have shifted over the years. Beginning as a man made river, the water has become a depository for waste and sewage since the 1950s. Treatment plants mitigate many harmful toxins and pollutants. The fact remains; the watershed is overwhelmed with chemicals, sediment, waste and garbage during heavy rain flow. Contamination of water through sewage is a pressing concern for border area residents. As the city of Tijuana grows in population, their lack of infrastructure and inadequate water treatment facilities pose a threat to watershed residents on both sides of the border. The primary threat is pathogenic contamination.
A coliform bacterium is a component of human waste, which indicates the presence of other pathogens in the water. With direct contact, people are at risk for illness such as Hepatitis A, giardia, E. coli infection and SARS. Data from the EPA shows high levels of coliform from February of 2003, 2008 and 2009. In addition, each year had high precipitation levels. The South Bay Treatment Plant in San Ysidro treats 25 million gallons daily. The plant functions during dry conditions, yet surpasses its capacity during the rainy season by millions of gallons. Untreated water flows through the Tijuana River and estuary, eventually meeting the Pacific Ocean.
This story provides an inside look into the water quality of the Tijuana River and how both sides of the border are addressing this environmental issue. See the website for full details >>
By Rocío Romero for El Nuevo Sol de California State University, Northridge
Maria and her half sister, Francis. Photo Rocío Romero / El Nuevo Sol.
U.S.-born María Vasques was just six years old when her mother Edith Barrios kissed her goodbye. She told María that she was off to work, and she hurried out the door dragging a suitcase.
María’s mother told her a white but enduring lie. That day, she abandoned the two bedroom apartment in Canoga Park to El Salvador, her mother’s native land, and didn’t come back for four years.
“I didn’t understand (why she left),” twenty-five-year-old María says with tears running down her puffy cheek.
María’s mother, who was then undocumented, had fears of being deported so she left the country in 1994 with hopes that a family member would sponsor her.
Barrios left during a time when immigration tensions were high. California voters had approved Proposition 187, the “Save our State” Initiative. The law barred undocumented immigrants from the state’s public education system, health care and other social services.
But in 1999, Prop. 187 was challenged in a legal suit and was found unconstitutional by federal court.
Still, immigration policy continues to be a problem for thousands of U.S. children and their immigrant parents.
From July 1, 2010, to Sept. 31, 2012, almost 23 percent of all 204,810 deportations were issued to parents with citizen children, according to federal data searched and published by Colorlines Magazine a publication of the Applied Research Center, a think tank that promotes racial justice.