Best Of The Border (3/24-3/29)
Every day, at a small, nondescript building in Playas, Tijuana, a handful of people gather to pray. They are worshiping at a masjid, or mosque, one of two new Islamic centers within a mile of one another, both of which have opened within the past three years.
The population here is small, but incredibly diverse. People from all over the world attend this mosque; there are people here from India, Costa Rica, the Middle East, and of course all Mexico and the United States.
They are all bumping up against the border together. While some live in this sleepy beach community by choice, many more are stuck here waiting for visas or, in recent years, deportees caught up in the net of the United States' ever-more-aggressive immigration policies.
On March 10, a gun battle erupted in Reynosa, a border city across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas. The events that followed illustrate the complexities of a drug war inflated with intimidation and speculation.
As Mexico's drug cartels fight for dominance, reporters have fallen victim to physical threats, even murder. In the last six years, at least 67 Mexican journalists were killed, making them among the most targeted reporters in the world.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks then-President George W. Bush gave immigrants an incentive to sign up with Uncle Sam — streamlined citizenship. There are currently 35,000 non-citizens out of 1.4 million people serving in the U.S. military.
The United States government has naturalized more than 83,000 members of the military since it expedited the process 10 years ago.
Amir Mohammed Estakhri is an American citizen of Iranian descent, and a longtime San Diego resident. He's a native Farsi speaker — the official language of Iran. And he speaks Dari, a very similar language spoken in Afghanistan.
But these days, Iran is probably the U.S.'s most visible enemy. And Estakhri’s work interpreting for Iranian officials has recently gotten him into trouble.
For more Fronteras Desk news, visit fronterasdesk.org.