Marron Valley, between Otay Mesa and Tecate Peak is now probably the most open part of the California border. There are about 6-7 miles of border that have no barrier at all. The Tijuana river is dry most of the year and can be crossed easily on foot. The river crisscrosses the border in this area. The lack of any border barrier is likely due to the difficulty of building a barrier where the river crosses in this way. When it rains, this dry-wash turns into a raging river again, which can easily knock down even a very strong fence.
Drug smuggling and traditional illegal immigration seem to be the main activity in Marron Valley, but there also appears to be a significant amount of fraudulent asylum-seekers crossing in this area in recent years.
There are lots of rat trails crisscrossing this entire area, as you can see in this image. These trails are used by drug smugglers, criminals and traditional illegal border crossers, who do not want to be caught by the Border Patrol to claim asylum. Click on the image to expand and see the rat trails better.
The video shows an agent driving down to the Tijuana river to make a pickup. Most places on the border that have a significant amount of fake refugee traffic have a place that is much like a bus stop where they pick them up the future progressive voters and shuttle them to the Border Patrol station for processing and probable release into the land of milk and honey. I believe a government-funded nonprofit will even pay their airfare if they need it.
The images below is trash that illegal crossers left behind at what I call the overlook. When the Border Patrol does not pick them up quickly enough, they may start walking up the hill. The Border Patrol gives them new clothes at the station and will only allow them to keep a few, small personal items. So the illegal crossers throw most of their things on the ground as soon as they have crossed the border and know that they will be picked up.
If you wish to go to the border overlook in Marron Valley, you can search for South Bay Rod & Gun Club in your navigator. After you arrive at the Gun Club, follow the direction as shown in the map below to drive to the area overlooking the border. There is a gate there and I have been told by BP agents not to go past the gate, because it is not safe.
Also, your navigator may take you there, if you paste these latitude and longitude coordinates for the overlook into your navigator (32°34’41.6″N 116°45’47.8″W).
Between Tecate and the small town of Campo there is valley with 1.3 miles of border where there is no barrier, at all. Campo creek crosses the border at this location. The community is called “Canyon City”. The Border Patrol apparently calls this part of the border “Trestle Valley”, because an old railroad bridge is there.
Even though there are a couple of gaps in the border fence in California, the fence overall is much better than it was a couple of years ago. A small gap does not negate the rest of the fence that has been built. A border barrier is not an all-or-nothing situation. The new fence may not be perfect, but it is a great help to the Border Patrol. When it becomes more difficult to cross and fewer places to cross, the price goes up and fewer people can afford to cross. It becomes physically more risky to cross, also.
On either side of this gap are several hundred yards of older bollard fence, built at the end of the Bush term or early in the Obama term in office. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 is what authorized the building of a barrier on the border in response to the 9/11 attacks. Bush began building the new steel bollard fence and it was continued for a time under Obama. It wasn’t a political football at that time and Obama didn’t stop it immediately, but he didn’t finish it either.
The current fence built by Trump is very similar to the earlier steel-bollard design, just generally higher, about 28-30 feet. This is the fence that the Border Patrol wanted. Along the 160-mile California border there is about 50-60 miles of the old Bus/Obama fence and about the same amount was built by Trump.
Between Tijuana and Tecate there are still about seven miles of wide-open border. This post shows how it looks and issues are discussed that may explain why it has been left open. Some of it is rocky, mountain ridges, but still there are a few miles, where a person can walk across on relatively flat ground with no barrier at all to stop him.
Though it still needs some work, the state of the Border Fence is really pretty good along the rest of the 160-mile California border, tremendously better than it was in 2018, before the new construction started.
However, Marron Valley is just one place that was skipped for some reason. Maybe it is for a good reason? It is probably because this section presents a more difficult engineering problem than most other sections. So, it was not rolled out like other sections of fence on the border with a more standard, less expensive design.
You might compare this section with the small section that runs into the Pacific Ocean near San Diego. That section has not been replaced either. It would take a special design and a crew with special skills to construct a bollard fence that extends into the surf. So, that part has apparently also been left for a future project.
This map shows the layout of the area. It is about 11.5 miles from Tijuana (or Otay Mesa on the US side) to Tecate. There is about four miles of pre-existing fence, built around 2008-2010 on Otay Mountain. 1.5 miles of new double fence is being constructed on the west side to better secure the Otay Mountain area. However, there are about seven miles of border that has no barrier whatsoever. You can click on these images to obtain a larger view.
This map shows a closer view of the current gap and is at an angle compared to the previous map to better display the terrain. It shows where the fence stops on the slopes of Otay Mountain. The area of completely open border extends from there about seven miles across Marron Valley and across the slopes of Tecate Peak to the outskirts of Tecate.
This is a close up panoramic image of one part of Marron Valley at the end of Marron Valley Road in . The border would be about 100 yeards on the other side of the river in this area. You can see that there is no barrier on the border at all and a dirt road that crosses the border.
Here is a broader view of the same part of Marron Valley above.
I was told I could see into Maroon Valley from the top of Tecate Peak. The road can be pretty rough, but you can drive all the way to the top with an all-wheel-drive vehicle if the road has been graded recently. The distance is about four miles to the top.
This is an overlook of Marron Valley on a hazy day. You can click on this photo and expand it for a better view. You just make out the Tijuana River bed as a meandering dark line of trees/brush at the bottom of the valley. ( I may go back on a more clear day for better photos.)
Next is an Image of the terrain to the north of the border and Marron Valley. If you look to the very left side, you can see the Tijuana River as a dark splotch at the bottom of the valley.
Certainly there are many paths illegal crossers can take to hike across the border here to a pickup location on Highway 94. You can click on this panoramic image and obtain a larger, high-resolution view.
I did not approach the border from the Mexican side, either, as I sometimes do, because only dirt roads lead down to the border in that isolated area and there are serious drug operations taking place there. A young Mexican citizen, working for the US Embassy as an agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture was killed in the area just across the border while collecting insects in October, 2020. The Narcos apparently thought he was spying on them. His body was riddled with nine bullets. So, I decided not to try to approach the border on the Mexican side for a better view!
The image below shows the fence as it ends on the slope of Tecate Peak just west of the town of Tecate. The town of Tecate has a new 30-foot bollard fence, but this smaller section going up the slopes of Tecate Peak is an older, 15-foot fence, probably built around 2008-2010. From where this fence ends, there is no border barrier for about seven miles until the fences starts up again on the east side of Otay Mountain.
Finally, here is a photo of Tecate and the border wall from Tecate Peak. The dark line dividing the U.S. and Mexico is a 30-foot bollard fence. I it actually about 26 feet high, but construted of 30-foot bollards, with a four-foot high anti-climb plate on top. The actual height depends on how deep the bollards are set in the ground.
I have not talked to the Public Affairs Officer for the San Diego Sector about why there is no fence, at all, in this area. I speculate that the reason they have not built a new fence here is probably due to the expense of building in this rugged, isolated area and also that it would be a significant engineering challenge to build a fence here. The likely reason is that the Tijuana river meanders back and forth across the border and also the run-off from mountain slopes drain into the Tijuana River. The river is probably dry or nearly dry most of the time, but when it rains there will be huge flash floods that could wash a fence away, even when it is set in concrete several feet deep. They don’t build in river beds. They could build a little north of the river, but there may be a land ownership issue with that.
It is cheaper and easier to build in other places and so this place was probably at the bottom of the list. They were trying to build as many miles of fence as possible with the funding that they had before Trump might have to leave office. Maybe they will be able to construct a barrier here in future years?
Four miles of 30-foot steel bollard fence have been finished in Tecate, California. Previously there was mostly landing mat fence here 8-10 feet high and a couple of small sections of low bollard fence that was built probably around 2008. Landing matt fence was originally intended only to stop vehicles, not to stop persons crossing on foot.
The fence runs towards Mt Celli in the east an older, it is joined up with and older, pre-Trump, bollard fence which already existed on the hill.
This vehicle belongs to Marines assisting the Border Patrol directly on the Border. My understanding is that they watch for illegal crossers and call the Border to apprehend them. They use the van to transport detainees. The back area of the van has been modified to transport prisoners. I did not take their photos, because they did not want to be photographed.
In past administrations they would talk about sending troops to the border, but they would not be armed and not directly on the border. These Marines are armed with loaded weapons and they are directly on the border. There are probably hundreds of them deployed in this way along the entire border.
The next photo shows the transition from the “Trump Wall” to the “Bush Fence”. The pre-existing bollard fence on the right was most likely built in the last couple of years of the Bush administration or the very early years of the Obama administration, before Obama cut it off. On the left is the “Trump Wall”. In this area, the older Bush bollard fence is about 15 feet tall and the new Trump fence is about 26 feet tall. It depends on how deep the foundation is and they may have reason to plant the bollards deeper here, such as to discourage shallow tunnels under the fence.
The Border Patrol has been calling this a “fence” for about 15 years or longer. There were a couple hundred miles of this bollard fence on the border, before Trump. They have long experience with it and this is the design they wanted to continue with the new construction. It is much to Trump’s credit that he gave them what they wanted. It is not the Border Patrol’s fault that the earlier fence was often dilapidated junk. It was the fault of past administrations, who did not support border security adequately.
This photo shows a section of the older Obama fence in the foreground and the new Trump fence in the back ground. Some of it was there before Obama’s term in office, but I call it the Obama fence, because he was legally obligated to build a secure border fence by the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Obama did not attempt to do it so he owns the previous fence.
Even the concertina wire was added during the Trump administration. Earlier, there was only the vehicle barrier in this area made out of sections of pipes wielded together. A person could just walk across in this area to the east of Mount Celli. In the middle of Tecate, it was the landing matt fence, which us only slightly better.
This next image is from the Mexican side, made in 2016, before the new fence was built. It shows this section of the border just east of Mt. Celli before the new fence was built. There was a couple hundred yards of old 15-foot bollard fence going across Mt. Celli. Down below in the dry wash there was nothing except the rail fence with not even any concertina wire. Why would anyone build a bollard fence on the hill when it was much easier to walk across in the dry wash below? There are many more areas like this in Campo to the east.
This image shows one of the crews a little further to the east of Tecate working to finish the Campo section of the border fence. There are reportedly several contractors working on the Campo section in order to have it finished by the end of this year.
On the west side of Tecate the fence extends partway up the side of Tecate Peak. The last few hundred yards is a Bush-era, 15-foot-high, bollard fence. Try clicking on the photo and expanding it to find the vehicle of the Border Patrolmen hiding behind a large boulder to the right of the end of the fence, waiting for illegals to cross.
There are no plans as far as I am aware to extend the fence further across Tecate Peak. On the other side, of the Tecate Peak, between it and Otay Mountain, are about 6 miles that are completely open, much of it along the Tijuana river. There is no border barrier at all there. It is going to be the most open part of the California border, after this new fence is totally completed. I am not sure why they are not building there. It could be, because the Tijuana river criss-rosses the border several times in that area. It may be an engineering challenge to build a fence in that area that would withstand flash floods in the riverbed, which are not uncommon.
Next is a video that I made when the work on the new border fence started in this area in the late summer of 2019.
This video by a Mexican reporter for “California Medios” is from 2016. I reused it and subtitled it in English. It shows how easy it was to cross in the middle of Tijuana and the conditions in this area are discussed, such as the kidnapping and extortion of illegal crossers by criminals. It also indicates how the local police feel about it. The reporter says that it takes less than 5 minutes, but in this case the actual crossing of the old border fence took only about 20 seconds for the three of them to cross, one of them very much overweight.
Fifteen miles of 30-foot-high primary bollard fence has been completed in the Yuha desert, just west of Calexico, California. Below is a map of the location, showing the area the fence covers. This area was wide open before the new fence was built.
It seemed to me in the area that the Border Patrol agents have much higher morale now than last year when the area was unsecured and fake refugees were crossing every day by the hundreds. Last year, I often heard agents talk about how soon they could retire. Now, it seems like they feel more empowered to do their job and are much more enthusiastic.
Bollard fence is being built all along the border in California, Arizona and New Mexico. There may be some gaps, if so, I will show it when I find them. In general, though, this new bollard fence is a tremendous improvement over the old fence.
This is panoramic image of the fence on the western side of the Yuha Desert. The fence ends on the left at a ridge at the edge of the Jacumba wilderness. On the far left of the image is part of Signal Mountain, a local landmark across the border in Mexico.
You can click on the panoramic images and expand them with a touch screen for a better view.
Secondary fences may be necessary in some places. The secondary fence is to prevent those who may get past the primary fence from escaping into the brush, before a border patrol agent can apprehend him. It does not have to be as formidable or as expensive and the primary fence. It have been reported that any secondary fences necessary will be constructed in the next phase, if Trump is re-elected.
The fence entirely finished in this area, but at time of this photo was taken, they were still working on the border road as here.
The photo below is taken a little further to the east in the middle of the Yuha Desert looking twoards Mt. Signal. The mountain is named Signal Mountain, as you might guess, because they used to send signals from the top of the mountain. Because they were still working on the border road, I could not get closer to the border here.
This photo shows the new fence as it crosses over the foothills of Mt. Signal.
This photo was taken next to the the All-American irrigation canal looking towards the west at Mt. Signal.
IMAGES OF FORMER OBAMA’S “SECURE” BORDER FENCE
These photos reveal the Obama concept of a secure border fence as implemented earlier. This is the fence in the same area, the Yuha Desert, before the new Trump bollard fence was constructed. Many liberals/leftests said the new 30-foot-high bollard fence was just a minor upgrade of the existing, secure Obama fence. Most of the fence along the border was much like this, if there even was a barrier at all, before the Trump fence was built. The Obama fence was one designed to fail and it served that purpose well.
INITIAL REPORT ON YUHA DESERT
This video is my initial report on the Yuha Desert and surrounding area from July, 2019, before the current bollard fence was started.
This video shows an example of how they used to drive vehicles through the older, existing fence in this area carrying illegal aliens or a load of drugs. The night vision part of video in this clip was recorded by the Border Patrol of El Centro Sector. The new 30-foot bollard fence totally stops vehicles from driving through and greatly reduces the number of illegals crossing on foot.
ILLEGAL-CROSSING WATER STATIONS DISAPPEARING
There used to be 15-18 water stations for illegal aliens that the radical, open-borders organization, Border Angels, put in this area. Most have disappeared, presumably because there are not many illegal crossers in the Yuha Desert any longer. There are still at least 3-4 water stations near the neighboring Jacumba Wilderness, though, where work on a bollard fence has not yet been completed. The new bollard fence will, no doubt, save many lives of those who would otherwise have tried to cross the border illegally.
In early September, a new fence was being built in the Jacumba Wilderness. It’s called the Jacumba Wilderness, because it is an isolated, often extremely rocky area which few people visit, except for hikers and off-roaders. The Jacumba Wilderness is about 11 miles wide. There has been no border barrier at all other than the ruggedness of the natural terrain.
There are a couple of valleys in the Wilderness, where they are building 30-foot bollard fence. This photo below is of the Skull Valley, named apparently for those who unsuccessfully try to cross in this area. The contractor has built a paved road into the area.
Click on the image to expand the view.
Below is video from last year of the Jacumba area. A crew is also staging near the town of Jacumba and will be expanding the existing 15-foot high border fence in that area. They are preparing to extend the fence up slopes in that area and probably will be replacing 0.7 miles of old landing mat fence near the small town of Jacumba.
General Semonite promised to extend the border fence right over Otay Mountain last September when Trump visited the border. See the video near the bottom of this post. Work has started recently on this project in San Diego.
This map shows the construction area on the left, represented by a yellow line. It is 1.5 miles long and they are building a double fence on this stretch, so about 3 miles of fence total is being built. There are about 3 miles of bollard fence (shown in green), which has probably been there since the GW Bush era, about 12 years. The new construction will join up with this existing fence. You can photos of the existing fence in the video near the bottom of this post.
On the other side of Otay mountain near Tecate there will still be a stretch of about 7 miles (shown as a red line) that has no border barrier and this very close to Tijuana. It is in a rugged mountainous area and the Tijuana river crisscrosses the border there in one place. I have not heard that there is a project to build a border fence in this area.
Since they have started work in Campo, this is probably the next most obvious area on the California border that could use a fence, but it is probably very difficult to build there. Highway 94 is only about a four-mile hike from the border in this area and serves as a convenient pick-up location for illegal crossers.
These photos were made in June of 2020 from the Mexican side of the border, because access is difficult on the American side. Hanging out at the border on the Mexican side is not necessarily being recommended here, because there may be smuggling going on in the area.
The photos are mostly high resolution panoramas. You can see more detail by clicking on a photo and expanding it on your touch screen.
This photo shows the western side of the new part under construction. It starts at the ridge on the left and continues the existing double fence on the other side of the ridge in Otay Mesa which was built last year. This fence runs behind a hill towards the left (east) and following are some photos of that area.
This is the fence from the other side of the hill. The bollard fence currently stops at the rim of a canyon or gorge. On the right in the distance you can see a short piece of fence that has been started on a ridge east of the canyon.
This is a closer view of the double fence running up to the edge of the canyon.
This is a construction staging area.
This is a close-up of the section on the ridge on the other side of the canyon. It appears that they are building roads into the canyon to support construction of new fence all the way across this large canyon. Blow this image up and you can see two guys working on the fence.
Another closeup view of the fence construction on the ridge from a different angle.
Initial video From November 2019
This video was made in December of 2019, before the new construction started.
These are some photos of work being done in the area of Campo, California taken July 4th, 2020. The work was just started a couple of months earlier. The new fence building starts to the east of Campo, near the communities of Boulevard and Tiera del Sol. This is a stretch of about 17 miles in total, running from the outskirts of Tecate to the community of Boulevard. Estimate they have constructed around a mile of this stretch, so far.
Several companies are reportedly working on this project. The requirement is to finish it by December, 2020. The terrain near Campo is a little rugged and it will be one of the last, most obviously vulnerable stretches on the California border to get to get a new, 30-foot bollard fence. The illegal traffic is heavy now, because the smugglers can see the area being closed off soon. No fence will be perfect, but they know that life is about to become a lot more difficult for them.
I call it a fence, because it does not look like a wall and this kind of bollard fence have existed on the border for 12-15 years and it has always been called a “fence”. The Border Patrol has a lot of experience with this kind of fence and this is what they wanted, only they wanted it to be higher in many places, up to 30-feet high.
Most of the older bollard fence is only 15 feet high. It is much to Trump’s credit that he approved what the Border Patrol told him they needed and did not try to force something else on them for his own personal political reasons. The Border Patrol has almost 100-years experience on the border. What they have always lacked is not the experience and knowledge, but the financial and political support that they have been enjoying recently under Trump. There is no reason whatsoever to be embarrassed about a 30-foot fence, constructed of steel bollards filled with top-grade concrete and rebar.
The old fence in the area around Campo is mostly 10-foot-high, landing mat fence in very bad condition and in some places there is no fence at all, except maybe for barbed wire. About 10 percent of the fence, though, is the old 15-18 foot high bollard fence from the George W. Bush era. Highway 80 and Interstate 5 run near the border near Campo. So, it is a convenient pick-up place for illegal crossers.
The land in this area around Tierra del Sol, close to the border, is privately owned and posted with “no trespassing” signs. For that reason the photos are taken from a distance.
These photos are high resolution. If you want to see more detail, click on the photo and expand the image on your touch screen.
Tierra del Sol
To the left in this image the fence is the old, Bush bollard fence. Much shorter than the new Trump fence. The old fence is pretty good fence. I do not see them tearing down the old bollard fence anywhere. They may leave it there and add a second fence behind it at some point, as they did in San Diego. In San Diego, the first fence is 18-foot bollards and the second fence is 30-foot bollards. It is an awesome double fence, completed last year, 16 miles long.
Smith Canyon has always been wide open, with no fence at all. It is a pretty big engineering challenge. Presumably, this will be a 30-foot high bollard fence all the way across the canyon. We shall soon see.
The fence on the rim on the other side of the canyon is also an old, Bush-era bollard fence a few hundred yards long and 15-18 feet tall. There are a number of these short segments of older bollard fence in this area. The new fence will be 17 miles of continuous bollard fence.
El Paso Taco Shop
El Paso, means “the pass”, or in other words, the place to cross. It is one of the few places to eat in Campo. Border Patrol agents often eat there. Hopefully, soon the name will have to be changed to “No Paso!” when this fence is finished.
I passed by this Taco shop many times, without thinking about the apparent humorous, subversive intent of the name. For many years, Campo has been one of the most convenient places to illegally pass into the United States on the California border.
This is a progress report on the border fence building project in the area of Lukeville and the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument area. About 43 miles of new 30-foot-high bollard fence is being constructed there at this time.
This is a report on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation on the border in Southwestern Arizona. The reservation has about 62 miles of border with Mexico. There are about 70 miles of border in the area that only have vehicle barrier, at most, including a few miles on either side of the reservation. This stretch is wide open to those on foot. Illegal crossers or drug smugglers can hike to a highway, a safe house or a pickup location.
The Reservation is bounded on the west by the Organ Pape Cactus national monument. There’s a border crossing in Lukeville. On the East the reservation reaches almost to Sasabe where there’s another border crossing. The reservation border is bounded on east and west by low mountain ridges.