Fleeing Violence, Immigrants and Restaurants Move From Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego

January 20, 2010 8:32 am 6 comments

Los Arcos, Interior

San Diego — As Mexico’s two year-old drug war intensifies, leading to greater violence and insecurity in the city of Tijuana, many families are moving across the border to San Diego.

Some are taking their businesses with them.

From 2000 to 2008 there was a 34 percent increase in the number of Hispanics living in Chula Vista, San Diego’s second largest municipality, and an 11 percent increase in those living in San Diego. Overall Hispanics comprise 51 percent of the Chula Vista population and 28 percent of the San Diego population, according to the San Diego’s Regional Planning Agency.

“People go out less at night and business [at the Tijuana location] shrank,” according to Eduardo Angulo Venenzuela, a member of the family that owns the Mexican restaurant chain Los Arcos.

People living in San Diego go less frequently to Tijuana to eat as well, he added.

In order to compensate, many Tijuana restaurants came to them. Tacos El Gordo is a popular taco shop chain in Tijuana that recently opened a San Diego location. One online reviewer on Yelp aptly explained why the San Diego location is so popular, “I know the tacos in TJ [Tijuana] are so tasty and cheap but no one wants to go down there these days because of the killings.”

Other recently immigrated restaurants include Mariscos Titos, originally in Playas de Tijuana, and Achiote, a restaurant by the same owners as the famous La Espadaña Restaurant in Tijuana. Achiote has two locations in San Diego and there are plans to open an upscale taco restaurant called Tacos and Tarros in 2010, according to Keno Revilla, one of Achiote’s investors.

“When people move from one country to another, they take a few things with them and their cooking is one of them,” said Revilla.

While the violence in Tijuana was not the sole factor motivating Los Arcos to move to San Diego, the wave of recent Tijuana immigrants in San Diego helped the business to get started at its San Diego location, said Venenzuela.

Similarly, Revilla emphasizes that the owners of Achiote/La Espadaña were not “running away.” However, their immediate plans are to continue investing in San Diego rather than Tijuana.

Another noticeable change that accompanied recent demographic shifts in San Diego is that Mexican products are also now more easily accessible in the most unlikely of places. One example are Gansitos, the equivalent of Twinkies in Mexico, which can now be found among kiosks selling Rainbow sandals and designer sunglasses at the upscale mall, Fashion Valley in San Diego.

In spite of changes indicating a massive demographic shift in San Diego, it is difficult to quantify the exact number of immigrant families from Tijuana.

Some immigrants prefer to buy houses in San Diego and live in them part-time rather than obtaining permanent residency, according to Mely Cortes, a Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.) in San Diego whose clients include recent immigrants from Tijuana.

“Many of these people do not intend to live here the rest of their lives, so they don’t really want to pay taxes from [the] income not obtained in the U.S.,” said Cortes. Those living in the U.S. for more than half a year must pay taxes as residents regardless of their residency status, she added.

For the long-time residents of San Diego of all ethnicities, however, these changes come with the added benefit of authentic Mexican food conveniently located on their side of the border.

“We take pride in what we do and we like to think of ourselves as ambassadors of real Mexican food,” said Revilla.

Image (Paola Reyes): Interior of Los Arcos Restaurant, San Diego.


  • In the article above the author shared this comment: “Many of these people do not intend to live here the rest of their lives, so they don’t really want to pay taxes from [the] income not obtained in the U.S.,” said Cortes. Those living in the U.S. for more than half a year must pay taxes as residents regardless of their residency status, she added.

    How in the heck to you think American citizens feel paying taxes to provide health care to illegal aliens ????

  • Maria Toscano

    How American’s feel about paying taxes to provide health care for illegal aliens is a topic for an entirely different article. Those families who can move their businesses across the boarder are very affluent and educated. They make a significant contribution to the local economy. It’s wonderful to see the resilience displayed by these hard working families.

  • I am so fed up people crying: “American citizens paying taxes to provide health care for illegal aliens.” Numer one, do you know how much tax revenue paid by illegal immigrants using fake ssn goes unclaimed every year?…Probably enough to take care of any health care cost incured by their “paisanos”…Illegals for the most part stay away from any government looking type deal. I have been to 30 of these United States, and I’ve been across illegals in almost all of them; and I can tell you that I have seen more Americans collecting all kinds of government help that they didn’t need or deserve, than I have seen illegals who need it, getting it. Number two, where is your sense of compassion. Why don’t you complain more about the obscenbillions of dollars each year dedicated to waste and abuse by military contractors. I promise you what ever cost illegals incur in our country times one thousand is a grain of sand compared. Third, do you know how much money illegals infuse into the country’s economy? These people do spend money on goods and services, not to mention the fact that these people fill all the cheap labor that enables tax paying Americans with cheap goods and services. And number four, Do you know about karma? Most of the states with the highest Mexican presence used to be Mexico the U.S. government underhandedly “bought” those states. You can change on a map where the borders lies, but you can not disappear an entitre culture that has been there 200 years longer than the country its in. Please America look at things for what they are. What happened to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I guess the spirit of American freedoom was only meant for anglosaxon and not the culture that precedes their arraival. I guess San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento along with all the other billion spanish names all over the place came from irish settlers!

  • I’ve lived in California for my entire life. I’m a white American who loves my country. I pay taxes work harder then most and provide everything to my family without asking for one penny from the government. Lets be honest, the government has know for 20years about the influx of illegal immigrants coming into the country and did nothing about it. It was easy for all business to hire cheap labor to stay in the game. Everyone was doing it. If you didn’t you didn’t always get the job. No enforcement was made to keep a fair bidding on projects with contractors who paid all the fees and insurance required against those who didn’t. Jobs continued to go to the bid that was less money and still got the job done. Mexico paid its workers 8.00 to 10.00 a day. Workers could make in one day what it took them a week in Mexico. Why wouldn’t they want to come into this country? It was easy, jobs were easy to get and life was good for them. Let’s jump ahead and look at most of the workers in jobs that only Mexicans fill today. You can’t find a white male who wants those jobs in most cases. Even my boys are spoiled and want the jobs that have a title. Mexican people are a proud people, show up every day for work, clean and happy to work. They live with supporting a family on wages that Americans complain about. I see lots of white trash taking money from government and declaring they deserve it. Yes we have lots of problems with our jails filled with Hispanics and gang members . That’s another story for later. I feel if the government had stopped the influx of illegal immigrant’s years ago we would not have the resentments most Americans have today. But they closed their eyes. So today I place all the blame on our government. Not the Mexican people that came here to find work. Go back to the people voted into government and hang the blame on them. Since Hispanics are now here and part of our culture we should do our best to welcome them and respect their hard working attitude. We should take a hard look at the good ones that contribute and offer them what we handed out to the othe countries that came here due to a war. The ones that are in jail that are blood suckers to our country should be punished and made to work hard labor to pay for their cost to sociality just like the old days when we had chain gangs. It’s time we clean up our existing Mexican labor force, make sure they have insurance when driving, have drivers licenses since they dive anyway, and pay taxes under a correct ssn like everyone else. I think it is past due to close our borders and secure our country. Now were finally doing it. Why did it take so long. Its time we get tough and back to the basics our country begin with and stop crying about something that will not go home to Mexico. There here to stay and its time we understand that. Its time we also get rid of all the lawyers that are boold suckers as well. God bless america and god bless our troops.

Leave a Reply

Other News

  • North America Today in Latin America Great Reads — March 1, 2015

    Great Reads — March 1, 2015

    José Mujica: The “World’s Poorest President” Set to Safeguard His Legacy of Change Declan McGarvey. Latin America News Dispatch. March 1, 2015. As Uruguayan President José Mujica steps down today at the expiration of his term, Uruguay is a different place than it was five years ago. Buenos Aires-based foreign correspondent Declan McGarvey explores Mujica’s outsized legacy in this latest piece for Latin America News Dispatch. How an Undocumented Immigrant From Mexico Became a Star at Goldman Sachs Max Abelson. […]

    Read more →
  • Dispatches Southern Cone Uruguay José Mujica: The “World’s Poorest President” Set to Safeguard His Legacy of Change

    José Mujica: The “World’s Poorest President” Set to Safeguard His Legacy of Change

    COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO, Uruguay — Colonia del Sacramento underwent turbulent change in its early history. A strategic port founded by conquistadors at the mouth of the world’s widest river, the Rio de la Plata, Colonia was for long the key to unlocking the vast riches of the South American interior. A prized, fortified settlement, it was so coveted Spain and Portugal crossed swords over it seven times between 1680 and 1778. Colonia is quieter these days, a sleepy riverside town […]

    Read more →
  • Argentina Southern Cone Today in Latin America Case Against President Cristina Fernández Dismissed

    Case Against President Cristina Fernández Dismissed

    Top Story — A federal judge in Argentina has dismissed a criminal complaint against President Cristina Fernández that has captivated the country since the prosecutor working on the case, Alberto Nisman, was found dead in his apartment in January, just hours before he was to testify against Fernández. Ruling that Nisman’s case was not sufficient to warrant a criminal investigation of Fernández, Judge Daniel Rafecas said that there was “not even circumstantial evidence” against the president. Nisman, whose case was […]

    Read more →
  • Brazil Southern Cone Today in Latin America Truckers’ Protest Snags Brazil Highways, Economy

    Truckers’ Protest Snags Brazil Highways, Economy

    Truck drivers in Brazil continued blocking roads across much of the country on Wednesday, and the government offer aimed at halting the protests did not immediately receive a reply, Reuters reported. Drivers in at least 10 states are protesting a tax on diesel fuel put in place by the government of President Dilma Rousseff, amid a larger effort to close a wide budget deficit. The widespread blockades, which have resulted in shortages of food and fuel and hampered Brazil’s exports, […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Today in Latin America Venezuela Outrage Across Venezuela as 14-Year-Old Killed During Protest

    Outrage Across Venezuela as 14-Year-Old Killed During Protest

    Top Story — Venezuelan police fatally shot a student during demonstrations on Tuesday in the city of San Cristóbal, sparking intensified protests in the city and calls for a new anti-government rally, The Associated Press reported. The shooting, which members of the ruling socialist government including President Nicolás Maduro quickly painted as an unfortunate accident, comes amid a time of increased tension in Venezuela, as a major opposition figure was stripped of his seat on the same day in connection […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba Today in Latin America More Than 100 Cuban Dissidents Arrested Ahead of Second Round of Talks

    More Than 100 Cuban Dissidents Arrested Ahead of Second Round of Talks

    Top Story — The assistant secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. diplomat for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson, expressed concern over the silencing of dissident voices in Cuba, following reports that over 100 anti-government protesters were arrested over the weekend. Fifty-three members of the prominent dissident group Ladies in White were arrested on Sunday — according to the group’s leader Berta Soler — along with 36 other activists. The leader of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Elizardo […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Peru Today in Latin America Espionage Allegations Threaten Relations Between Peru and Chile

    Espionage Allegations Threaten Relations Between Peru and Chile

    Top Story — The diplomatic crisis between Peru and Chile over a suspected spying plot intensified over the weekend as Peruvian President Ollanta Humala sent a strongly worded letter to Chilean officials and announced that he would withdraw the country’s ambassador from Chile. Ollanta’s letter and statement follow revelations last week that three Peruvian naval officials are suspected of spying for Chile. Two of the three officers are currently standing trial for treason in a Peruvian military court, while the […]

    Read more →
  • North America Today in Latin America Great Reads — February 22, 2015

    Great Reads — February 22, 2015

    Killing in Washington State Offers ‘Ferguson’ Moment for Hispanics Julie Turkewitz and Richard A. Oppel Jr. The New York Times. February 16, 2015. On the afternoon of Feb. 10, Antonio Zambrano-Montes — a 35-year-old Hispanic resident of the agricultural town of Pasco, Washington — reportedly threw rocks at cars and police officers. Zambrano-Montes then ran away, with three officers right behind him. A graphic video shot by an onlooker captured what happened next: Zambrano-Montes turned around and put his hands […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Today in Latin America Venezuela Caracas Mayor Arrested Over Alleged U.S.-Backed Conspiracy

    Caracas Mayor Arrested Over Alleged U.S.-Backed Conspiracy

    Top Story — Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested Caracas mayor and opposition figure Antonio Ledezma on Thursday, after officials accused him of plotting a coup against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Ledezma’s arrest follows declarations made in recent days by Maduro that a group of air force officers were colluding with the local opposition and with the United States to overthrow the socialist government, which has been beset by difficulties including economic woes connected to the steep fall in global […]

    Read more →
  • Argentina Southern Cone Today in Latin America Thousands March in Argentina One Month After Prosecutor’s Death

    Thousands March in Argentina One Month After Prosecutor’s Death

    Buenos Aires was the scene of a major protest on Wednesday as thousands held a rally to express their dissatisfaction with President Cristina Fernández’s handling of the investigation into the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, The Associated Press reported. While estimates on attendance were not immediately available, the march was one of the largest since Nisman was found dead one month ago in his apartment of a single gunshot wound to the head. Fernández made veiled references to the […]

    Read more →