Uneasy Neighbors

70 miles north of the border itself were other less defined borders that sequestered thousands of new comers who lived beneath chaparral brush in the hills and canyons of North San Diego County.  Dozens of squatter camps were populated by men & women, some with school aged children, who labored by day as farm workers, home gardeners, carpet layers, restaurant cooks & dish washers, house maids, construction workers and more.  I spent many days and nights in every camp throughout the county including Valle Verde, the North River Road and Canyon de los Diablos camps.  Year around, thousands of people lived in huts made of sticks, cast off construction materials and purloined sheets of farm plastic and twine.  There was no running water, electricity or sanitation.  But there was social, cultural and economic structure.  Some had spaces for religious worship, sit down restaurants, dance patios and soccer fields.  During the 1970’s and 80’s these embryonic barrios were nationally unique to San Diego County.  Eventually, their uneasy neighbors in upper middle class suburbs prevailed and they were bulldozed.  Now the only remaining evidence of these clandestine pueblos are photographs.

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