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Last iconic 'immigrant crossing' sign near US-Mexico border disappears

Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Pedrio Rios, director of the U.S.-Mexico Border Program for the American Friends Service Committee, advocates for migrant rights and opposes Trump's immigration policies.

Rios said he remembered clearly when the signs were installed and the deaths that were happening at the border.

"If there are no more Caltrans immigrant crossing signs left, I think it will reflect a reality about immigration that overzealous politicians fail to acknowledge when advocating for increasing border enforcement measures -- that migration into the United States has been at a decline since at least the year 2000, and perhaps longer than that," Rios said.

He pointed out that Operation Gatekeeper didn't mean that fewer migrants were dying trying to cross the border. The number of border crossing deaths increased significantly, but they were away from cities and out of public view.

"Ironically, as Operation Gatekeeper pushed migrants into less-populated desert and mountainous areas, fewer migrants died crossing in the San Diego region, but this meant more migrants were in peril in the less visible treacherous crossing routes," Rios said.

The shift of migrant routes to more remote locations out of public view has contributed to the political divide, Meade said.

"So much of what actually happens is invisible," Meade said. "The anecdotal story, whatever does become visible gets exaggerated."

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For Meade, the sign's disappearance isn't the end of an era. He noted that immigration from Mexico has had a net of zero since 2005, meaning as many people are going back to Mexico as are coming here.

"I think it already passed," Meade said. "It's late to be talking about the sign."

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