Saturday, July 8, 2017

Just One More Illegal Immigrant Road Sign Left on Interstate 5

These stories are designed to pull at your heartstrings, in classic radical left style, although this is interesting nevertheless.

At LAT (safe link), "With only one left, iconic yellow road sign showing running immigrants now borders on the extinct":

Immigrant Sign photo W54_Special_CA-San_Ysidro_-vector.svg_zpsjqshwkly.png
So many immigrants crossing illegally into the United States through California were killed by cars and trucks along the 5 Freeway that John Hood was given an assignment.

In the early 1990s, the Caltrans worker was tasked with creating a road sign to alert drivers to the possible danger.

Silhouetted against a yellow background and the word “CAUTION,” the sign featured a father, waist bent, head down, running hard. Behind him, a mother in a knee-length dress pulls on the slight wrist of a girl — her pigtails flying, her feet barely touching the ground.

Ten signs once dotted the shoulders of the 5 Freeway, just north of the Mexican border. They became iconic markers of the perils of the immigrant journey north. But they began to disappear — victims of crashes, storms, vandalism and the fame conferred on them by popular culture.

Today, one sign remains. And when it’s gone, it won’t be replaced — the result of California’s diminished role as a crossing point for immigrants striving to make it to America....


In the 1980s, more than 100 people were killed as they tried to cross freeway lanes in the San Ysidro area and between San Clemente and Oceanside. Caltrans wanted to do something about the problem and asked [artist John] Hood, a California Department of Transportation employee and Vietnam War veteran who grew up on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, to come up with a sign that would alert drivers and could reduce the number of deaths.

He eventually settled on using the image of a family in an effort to tug at the heart in a way a typical road sign might not. A little girl with pigtails, he thought, would convey the idea of motion, of running.

The sign was inspired by photographs of people crossing at the time, including those taken by former Los Angeles Times staff photographer Don Bartletti.

Caltrans first installed the signs in late 1990 and early 1991. After workers erected a median fence along the freeway’s trouble spots in 1994, officials decided not to replace any future signs that were lost. Around that time, federal officials launched Operation Gatekeeper, which fenced off the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego — pushing illegal immigration east, toward Arizona and Texas. That helped reduce the number of freeway-crossing deaths, Caltrans officials said.

“You create your work, and that’s the extent of it. You never envision something like that to happen,” Hood said about the sign’s evolution. “It’s become an iconic element. It lives on.”

Estela Dutra, a hairstylist at Selena Estetica Unisex on West San Ysidro Boulevard, said she always found the signs offensive. The image is akin to a cattle crossing, she said.

“It’s sort of humiliating, dehumanizing. It makes us look like animals ... primitive people,” she said.

The 72-year-old, a naturalized U.S. citizen, illegally crossed the border 40 years ago. She entered with ease as a car passenger along the San Ysidro crossing, she said.

“I wasn’t asked for a passport or a visa,” she said. “Can you believe it? Those were different times.”

Dutra said she gets teary-eyed when she sees the remaining sign on her way north from a day trip to Mexico. Her sadness doesn’t stem from her journey so long ago, but for those who continue to make the trip — which has become increasingly treacherous.

“I just feel so much sadness for all the families that have to go through that. Can you imagine how much they suffer?” she said. “The families that cross leave everything behind — the little they have — and risk it all.”
More (FWIW).

The truly big story here is that border enforcement works. California's enforcement at San Ysidro is really aggressive, with layers of militarized fencing and aggressive border patrols, with high-technology as well. We can expand this to the rest of the physically-adaptable border. It's doable, totally. It's a political question. That's all.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.