The steep slope into a drainage ditch on the U.S.-Mexico border — reportedly an entrance ramp to the U.S. for hundreds of Roma people since 2010 — is being blocked by new fencing.
The slope, on the east side of Bunker Hill that leads into Goat Canyon in Border Field State Park, was initially thought to be too steep to build fence on when the Army Corps of Engineers designed the new steel fence that spans most of the border from the ocean to Otay Mesa. But persistent use of that slope for human smuggling — along with the use of the large drainage pipes into Goat Canyon a tenth of a mile east — prompted the Border Patrol to push for additional construction that’s underway now.
Since 2010, more than 2400 Roma — an ethnic minority slaughtered by Hitler and still being persecuted in European countries, according to Amnesty International — have come across the U.S.'s southern border, mostly in the San Diego area.
From October 1, 2013, to September 1, 2014, more than 200 Roma have entered the San Diego Sector, according to U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Timothy Hamill, who noted that those were preliminary numbers. Most of them came through the Imperial Beach area using the unsecured hillside.
While the Roma are not statistically significant — the Border Patrol apprehended 27,825 people in that same time — they are among the oddest apprehensions, patrol agents say.
The Roma — who carry identity papers from Romania — tend to come across the border in family groups, with pregnant women and children. Because Immigration and Customs Enforcement lacks local detention facilities to house families, they are usually released after a few days in detention with an immigration-court date. "They know they're going to be released," says a patrol agent, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They...walk around looking for someone to surrender to."