By Toni G. Atkins
Recently, the president talked about closing the border between the United States and Mexico. That would be a monumentally terrible idea, and fortunately, he quickly changed his position, first saying he would wait a year and then saying he didn’t think he’d ever have to close it.
I hold hope that if he changes his mind again, he would ultimately listen to the chorus of voices saying such a move would be economically and culturally devastating for the San Diego region, California and the country — and carry damaging ripples into the global economy.
Mexico and California have become inextricably linked — and that’s a good thing! Mexico is California’s largest export market, supporting more than 566,000 jobs north of the border.
If Baja California were a country, it would be San Diego’s second largest trading partner, behind only Mexico itself. The collective manufacturing supply chain for our binational mega-region (San Diego County, Imperial County and Baja California) accounts for $2.5 billion in trade.
Numerous companies in our region have a robust cross-border presence, such as Cubic, Becton Dickinson and Company, and Kyocera. Cubic, for example, has 400 employees in Tijuana. The defense and transportation-technology company’s southbound exports are worth more than $59 million per year, and its northbound imports account for nearly $33 million.
An average of 137,000 border crossings between San Diego and Tijuana occurs every day, with people traversing the international boundary for work, school and tourism. More and more Americans are living in Mexico and commuting across the border, due in part to the rising cost of living in California and thanks to the vibrant culture of Tijuana and beyond.
The Valle de Guadalupe wine region, for instance, is experiencing tremendous growth and has become an enormously popular destination. Tijuana is rich with cutting-edge visual artists and innovative culinary experiences.
Meanwhile, the Cross Border Xpress, the world’s first binational airport terminal, connecting the United States with the Tijuana Airport, has become an increasingly common way for San Diegans to travel by air. Nearly 2 million passengers used the Cross Border Xpress in 2017.
On a bipartisan and widespread basis, elected officials, business leaders and other regional advocates understand that this economic and cultural exchange is extremely good for San Diego County, California and Baja California.
I will continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of all efforts to bring our two countries, and our peoples, together.
— Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate. Follow her on Twitter @SenToniAtkins.