As many differences as there are between the northern and southern U.S. borders, there are a lot of similarities. I’ve called Detroit, Michigan home the past couple of years and before I moved here, I spent a significant amount of time in Tijuana, Baja California over a span of a couple of years. These two border cities are two of the busiest international crossings in the world. Tijuana-San Ysidro being one of the busiest land crossings in the world, arguably the busiest, and Detroit-Windsor seeing the most traffic daily on the U.S. – Canada border.
The southern border stretches from California all the way to Texas nearly 2,000 miles long. The northern border reaches from Washington to Maine and Alaska. The border between the U.S. and Canada is nearly 4,000 miles long not including Alaska’s border with Canada, which is roughly 1,538 miles alone and with a combined total of around 5,525 miles in length.
In February and March 2019, I was able to spend time in Juárez, Chihuahua and Tijuana reporting alongside nine other fellows and a handful of talented journalists from both cities as they helped us navigate their homes. Towns such as El Paso, Texas and Juárez function nearly as one place. This is incredibly different compared to Detroit and Windsor, Ontario where the only way to cross the border is in a car via tunnel or bridge over the Detroit River.
These diptychs show Tijuana on the left and Detroit on the right.
Elaine Cromie, 2019 U.S.-Mexico Border Fellow