Reflections of a San Diego Educator on the Temporary Closure of the U.S.-Mexico Border

The alert arrived on my phone slightly after noon on Sunday, US-Mexican Border closed. My heart sunk for many reasons. The images that were about to flood my social media accounts was something I was not prepared for. I addictingly scrolled through photos of crowds running in hopes to cross. I saw snapshots of mothers pulling their young children as they joined the masses to have a slight chance at freedom, opportunity, life. I saw our southern freeways come to a sudden halt as cars were rerouted denying entry in Tijuana.

This build up of events has been one I’ve seen progress through the last couple of weeks. Last week as my husband and I approached the border crossing by vehicle, I noticed armed law enforcement in riot gear standing guard next to a semi truck loaded with barricades, ready for set up. Approaching the entry cement dividers coiled in razor wire, standing at least 8 feet tall welcomed folks to the US Port of Entry. I was terrified, I couldn’t fathom what I was witnessing, this past week though the plan was executed–one of the largest border entries in the world was shut down several times.

On Sunday, several members of the migrant caravan approached the border to seek asylum. I’m not writing this piece to make a political point because at this moment it’s the last thing crossing my mind. I am writing this piece because as a human being I’m sickened and heartbroken by the lack of humanity given to our hermanas and hermanos. I can’t help but think about larger implications for the residents of Tijuana who cross that border daily to work and attend school. I think about the economic impact this will have on our country as the dependency of those workers that cross daily helps our city run, let alone the frustration of those who suddenly cannot cross to earn money for their family.

This is a story of many third world countries and their citizens stuck in political turmoil and poverty solely trying to be happy, safe, and remain alive. I write this piece because my hope is that despite whatever side you are on that you simply deploy empathy–that you see the faces of those seeking refuge, that you imagine the extent that you would go through to protect your children and provide for your family, whether present or future. I ask that before you speak about this breaking news that you remember that like you and me, they are human. Remember that there are always two sides to a story so don’t take the stories aired on the media for face value; perspective is critical and there’s always another voice that isn’t being published.

Fully aware of my privilege, I can’t help but think about the pledge of allegiance that for over a decade I recited in school–the last line ringing in my head for I firmly believe that it is a human right, not just an American right to life, “liberty and justice for all.”

What do you think?

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Diana Cornejo-Sanchez

Diana Cornejo-Sanchez

Diana started her educational journey as a high school Humanities teacher with San Diego Unified. She then had the opportunity to be a founding teacher of High Tech High Media Arts, where she taught and mentored new teachers for over ten years. After teaching, she joined the University of San Diego’s Jacob’s Institute for Innovation in Education where she supported large urban school districts in strategic thinking to bring about systemic change to provide students with active learning experiences. Her work here led her to lead change as the Director of Urban Discovery Academy, a Tk-8 project based learning charter school. Her passion for supporting teachers all throughout her journey brought her back to High Tech High as the Director of the Intern and Induction programs, where she supports new teachers and their mentors.

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