President Donald Trump said that there’s a crisis at the United States-Mexico border that only a brand-new wall can fix, and he shut down the U.S. government to make that wall real.
When I visited the existing wall’s busy crossing, the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, on January 5, near the start of the government shutdown, I didn’t see much of a crisis.
What I did see was Mexican commuters crossing the border and getting on one of the country’s busiest rail lines, like they have every day since 1981.
San Diego is a twin city. As you probably know, Tijuana, a Mexican city of 1.6 million residents, is close by. You may not know that TJ, as San Diegans call their Mexican neighbor, is a short Trolley ride away. The Trolley’s Blue Line terminates at the border fence. You can see it from the platform.
That makes the Blue Line something more than your ordinary light rail line. The Blue Line stop at the San Ysidro Port of Entry is the only fixed passenger rail service at an international border in North America. Other systems run close to a border, like Buffalo’s light rail and the streetcars in Detroit and El Paso, but they aren’t essential features of those places.