Border Region

Cross-Border Economic and Environmental Metrics

Neutral from
2016 to 2017

How are we doing?

The border region received a neutral rating because of the complexity of the region’s metrics. Unemployment rates decreased in Tijuana, California and San Diego, however, Baja California saw an increase. Border crossings through San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry increased in 2017, with truck, personal vehicle and pedestrian crossings at their highest over the past eight years. Tijuana beach water quality worsened in most locations in 2017. See more information.

Unemployment rates in Tijuana, California and San Diego continued to decline in 2017, but increased in Baja California. Collection methods and standardization techniques for unemployment data varies, which makes a direct comparison between U.S. and Mexico unemployment rates unsuitable.

Data Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, 2018; INEGI, Encuesta Nacional de Ocupación y Empleo, Indicadores estratégicos, 2018

Why is it important?

  • Developments in Tijuana and Baja California are crucial components of the San Diego region’s continued economic prosperity and quality of life.
  • Environmental issues do not stop at the border. Raw sewage from Mexico continues to make its way into the Tijuana River Valley and onto south county beaches.

Northbound border crossings increased from 2016 to 2017 for trucks, personal vehicles and pedestrians. In 2017, truck and personal vehicle crossings were the highest they have been during the past eight years.

Data Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Border Crossing/Entry Data, 2018

Northern Baja California Beach Water Quality

(select beaches, 2017)

Beach Water Quality
Bacterial Test Pass
Percentage in 2017*

*Bacterial test pass is based on a bacterial standard set by the Mexican government for recreational beaches.

Many south of the border beaches had increased bacteria exceedance advisories in 2017. San Antonio del Mar continued to struggle with water quality throughout the year.

Data Sources: PFEA/Tijuana Waterkeeper, 2018

  Idea for Change

Every day, 50,000 vehicles cross the U.S.-Mexico border at San Ysidro, leading to massive air pollution and high rates of respiratory problems. Fortunately, a multi-year research project involving the University of Washington, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the community organization Casa Familiar is tackling this problem by installing air quality monitors and tracking pollution data. This collaborative network should be maintained indefinitely, and expanded to include local governments and planning organizations. This will guarantee that vital information is shared across relevant agencies and used to develop effective pollution mitigation programs.

  Bright Spot

Surfrider San Diego, Wildcoast, the South Bay Clean Water Movement and other groups are working on new policies and programs to help resolve border sewage issues. As a result, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 507 (Hueso, 2017) that allocates $500,000 for a feasibility study on mitigating sewage impacts in the Tijuana River Valley. In addition, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego filed a notice of intent for a joint lawsuit against the International Boundary and Water Commission to force the federal government to remediate the problem. Although there has been progress on the border sewage issue, much still needs to be done to create a unified plan of action that halts pollution in the Tijuana River Estuary and coastline.

  What are we measuring?

We track unemployment rates, border crossings into the U.S. and beach water quality in the Tijuana area. We do not determine a yearly trend in this indicator due to the complexities and expansive reach of the border region. Learn more about the data.