By Melanie Mason / Los Angeles Times
Three decades ago, when Rosa Hernandez began working at the Otay Mesa cargo port on the U.S.-Mexico border, it was hardly a bustling center of commerce.
Now, as port director, she oversees an operation that daily inspects and moves 6,000 trucks loaded with electronics, produce, even live animals, in and out of the country. The surrounding fields have morphed into strip malls and gas stations and premium shopping outlets.
The populist rhetoric of Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders has made international trade a focal point of the presidential campaign. Often, the debate is framed in stark terms of winners and losers: jobs migrating to lower-wage countries like Mexico and China, leaving in their wake hollowed-out industrial towns in the Midwestern Rust Belt.
But in San Diego County, trade seeps into every part of life; residents of both countries hop across the border for daily commutes, shopping and medical care. Uber, the popular ride-hailing service, offers rides from San Diego into Mexico.
“Culturally, it is so very different than what we see on the national stage,” said Mark Cafferty, president of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit group promoting area businesses.