Reflections on the 25th Anniv of Op. Gatekeeper

Andrea Guerrero

By Andrea Guerrero

Today is a day of hope, the hope that comes from realizing that our future can be different from our past, and that the walls that currently divide us can one day become bridges that bring us together in the border region.

Today — Oct. 1, 2019 — marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Gatekeeper, which began as a single fence at the San Diego / Tijuana border and then became two fences and in some places three fences with barbed wire, sensors, and surveillance cameras. Over time, this wall grew taller and wider, and it went deeper into the ocean, attempting to stop the tides that connect us.

And in the shadow of that wall, the number of federal border agents grew and grew until now, they outnumber city police. These border agents do not stay at the actual border. They come into our communities, ask some of us for our papers, and stop some of us on our way to work, school and home. These agents are a constant reminder that we are not free, and neither are they.

We are bound to policies driven by fear and hate that have led border agents to cage children, deport parents, abuse immigrants, and denigrate the humanity of border communities. This is not how we should treat people. Not now. Not ever. 

It is time for a New Border Vision, one that leads with our values to address our needs. One that treats human life as paramount, not as a collateral consequence. One that expands safety for all of us by making sure federal agents are accountable for the harm they commit. And one that welcomes people at the border and treats everyone with dignity and respect. This includes migrants, merchants, residents and visitors. 

A New Border Vision increases opportunities for safe, orderly and regular crossings. It recognizes that migration is a human phenomena as old as time and should be managed not criminalized. A New Border Vision ends the long wait times. For everybody. And it calls for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response to asylum seekers in a manner that honors our moral and legal obligations. 

Our government is failing at governance. We can do better. And a New Border Vision lays out a path for good border governance grounded in human rights principles and global best practices, and informed by our lived experiences in border communities. 

It is time. Time for a New Border Vision. We invite you to learn more about it at

Andrea Guerrero is the executive director of Alliance San Diego and a steering committee member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition