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.

6 Comments

  • 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

  • Today in Latin America Great Reads This Week

    Great Reads This Week

    Aiming to Create a Jazz Capital Melena Ryzik. The New York Times. January 18, 2015. Danilo Pérez, a Panamanian jazz pianist and founder of the Panama Jazz Festival, is a towering figure in the world of jazz — a genre of music not quite as popular in the region as in the U.S. or Europe. As a teacher and mentor, he is a tireless promoter of musicianship in his home country. Here, reporter Melena Ryzik explores his highly influential jazz […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba North America Today in Latin America United States Cuba, U.S. Agree on Diplomacy, Clash Over Human Rights During Historic Talks

    Cuba, U.S. Agree on Diplomacy, Clash Over Human Rights During Historic Talks

    Top Story — High-level talks between U.S. and Cuban delegates in Havana ended with both sides agreeing to move forward with plans to restore diplomatic ties and to reconvene ahead of April’s Summit of the Americas, when both countries’ presidents are set to meet. While the two days meetings were largely cordial, representatives of both countries clashed over human rights issues — with Cuba countering remarks about its humanitarian record with references to recent killings of unarmed black men by […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico News Briefs North America Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Has Had A Horrible Year

    Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Has Had A Horrible Year

    In the year since TIME magazine billed him as the savior of Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto has watched his public image unravel. This time last year, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was riding a wave of international adulation—one that symbolically peaked when he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine as the man poised to steer the country in the right direction. He had ostensibly reformed the country’s public-education system, raised taxes on the rich (as well as on […]

    Read more →
  • Argentina Southern Cone Today in Latin America New Evidence Raises Questions About Death of Argentine Prosecutor

    New Evidence Raises Questions About Death of Argentine Prosecutor

    Top Story — New evidence uncovered during an investigation into the mysterious death of an Argentine prosecutor who accused President Cristina Fernández of protecting Iranian officials connected to a terror bombing complicates the narrative that he took his own life on Sunday night. A locksmith consulted by investigators on Wednesday said that one locked entrance to the apartment of Alberto Nisman could be easily opened with a simple hook. Investigators also found a third way to access Nisman’s residence through […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexican President’s Conflict-of-Interest Scandal Deepens

    Mexican President’s Conflict-of-Interest Scandal Deepens

    Read More: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Has Had a Horrible Year Top Story — Further evidence of favoritism involving Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration and real-estate developers emerged on Tuesday, as an investigation by The Wall Street Journal revealed that a contractor who sold a property to the president in 2005 went on to win over $100 million in government contracts. The discovery follows November reports that another construction company sold a house to the president’s family and […]

    Read more →
  • Argentina Southern Cone Today in Latin America As Death of Prosecutor Shocks Argentina, Investigator Says Suicide Likely

    As Death of Prosecutor Shocks Argentina, Investigator Says Suicide Likely

    Top Story — In a case that has engrossed Argentina, prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead on Sunday night — just hours before he was to testify against the country’s president and other officials at a congressional hearing — of what the state’s lead investigator in the case says was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A preliminary autopsy of Nisman’s body found no evidence that anybody else was connected with his death, according to Viviana Fein, the investigating […]

    Read more →
  • Brazil Southern Cone Today in Latin America Brazil Withdraws Ambassador to Indonesia after Excecution of Citizen

    Brazil Withdraws Ambassador to Indonesia after Excecution of Citizen

    Top Story — The government of Brazil withdrew its ambassador to Indonesia on Saturday after the execution of a Brazilian national on drug trafficking charges. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement that she was “outraged” by the execution by firing squad of Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who was arrested in 2003 by Indonesian authorities who found cocaine concealed in his hang glider at the Jakarta airport. Moreira was executed along with five others, most of them foreign nationals, […]

    Read more →
  • Blog Today in Latin America Great Reads This Week

    Great Reads This Week

    Latin America News Dispatch is happy to announce the latest addition to our weekly newsletter — Great Reads This Week. Here, you can see some of the week’s best feature articles on Latin America. Delivered every Sunday, Great Reads This Week places an emphasis on long-form journalism and in-depth analysis. Enjoy! “In Bolivian Prisons, Blood is Thicker Than Bars,” by Sara Shahriari. Al Jazeera America. January 12, 2015. San Pedro men’s prison in Bolivia is home to a number of […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba Today in Latin America White House Rolls Out Details of New Cuba Policy

    White House Rolls Out Details of New Cuba Policy

    Top Story — The United States on Thursday announced the details of the partial restoration of economic ties with Cuba, a handful of regulatory changes set to take effect on the following day. The policy changes by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments follow the historic announcement by the U.S. and Cuban governments in December that they will seek to normalize diplomatic relations. Starting Jan. 16, U.S. citizens will be allowed to use credit cards, open bank accounts and conduct […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Haiti Today in Latin America After Government Collapse, New Haitian Prime Minister Takes Office

    After Government Collapse, New Haitian Prime Minister Takes Office

    Top Story — The new prime minister of Haiti took office on Wednesday by default after parliament dissolved the day before. The breakdown of parliament followed government and opposition leaders failing to authorize much-disputed elections — overdue since 2011 — by a Monday deadline. On Sunday, President Michel Martelly announced that he had reached a last-minute consensus with several members of the opposition ahead of the deadline, but the agreement collapsed. The president was meant to call for elections in […]

    Read more →