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July 21, 2019

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Bustling economy, rich diversity make Tijuana a special place

Thousands of migrants are arriving in Tijuana to seek asylum in the United States. Some media are framing Tijuana as an unwelcoming and unsafe city. But as a lifelong resident of this special place, I want Americans to know three reasons they can be thankful for the power of collaboration and community that are the true calling cards of my hometown.

Fueling economic growth on both sides of the border

The United States and Mexico have been economic partners for decades through the strength of cross-border collaboration between Tijuana and San Diego. I remember Tijuana’s 1994 “Sister City” pact with San Diego that helped set the stage for where we are today.

It’s no accident that Tijuana is now home to the world’s largest land border crossing. In partnership with southern California, we’ve developed an interdependent market that encourages an innovative and thriving industrial economy. The Tijuana region is now home to more than 570 world-class corporations that provide good employment for Mexicans and Americans alike. Those include companies like Panasonic, Foxconn, Plantronics, Bose and Samsung.

Tijuana is not merely a border town one crosses — it is a hub that attracts companies and people. It has grown a local economy into a global, binational market that influences key North American markets in California, the Pacific Rim and Latin America. This growth is not by accident. It’s part of the Tijuana’s value to constantly pursue new ideas with passion and desire.

Advancing talent development in the region

While Americans are rightfully proud of their own system of higher education, few likely know much about the thriving university in Tijuana that Americans cross the border every day to attend. My institution, CETYS University, has campuses in border areas including Tijuana and Mexicali, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to educate students from both sides of the border and from around the world.

Like our peers in the United States, we’re charged with transforming lives through education and developing the type of talent that can fuel economic growth. That endeavor increasingly happens in partnership with U.S.-based institutions and corporations. And it definitely breaks down the borders of collaboration between our countries.

I have personally witnessed the power of our Tijuana campus for more than 15 years now and I have seen how Mexican and American students can develop into the type of talent that drives the innovation that our economy demands. There is no doubt that when it comes to talent creation and development, our futures in Mexico and the United States are inextricably linked.

Tijuana is a melting pot similar to the U.S.

Living in the northern part of Mexico has given us a unique, independent identity. Yet the United States constantly perceived us as the most Mexican community closest to the border. These dueling identities breed a tenacity and sense of community among Tijuanenses that is — dare I say it — similar to the spirit of perseverance found among many Americans.

Tijuana has become a melting pot that checks no box but its own. We are made up of people all around Mexico, Asian communities from China, Korea and Japan, Latin communities from across Central America and a growing population of Americans from the Southwest.

Yes, we battle crime and drugs just like major American cities, but there’s so much more to our story. Tijuana is moving forward in many positive ways and we are proud of our melting-pot culture.

I’m optimistic about what we can continue building together on both sides of the border.

Francisco Reyes is the director of communications for CETYS University, a leading private university system in Mexico. He wrote this for