Of Nematodes, and Tijuana River Valley Pollution

There is a major concern about what can, and can’t be brought across the border when you walk or drive into the United States. But the USDA, and the US Government doesn’t seem to have a problem turning a blind eye to the millions of gallons of raw sewage that carries among other things, E. Coli, chloroform, uranium, and hexavalent chromium (you know that stuff Erin Brockovich got famous for exposing in Hinkley). It’s a nightmarish soup of human waste, industrial and agricultural that flows freely into the US, just meters away from the Border Patrol checkpoint. No passport needed.

A few years back, I was working on a photo project in Baja. I was down camping for two weeks hitting a few different spots like the Cataviña Desert, the volcanos at Tres Vírgenes and The Wall. There was also a solid South swell hitting during that time, so I figured I’d combine my photo trip with a surf trip, and hit one of my favorite long, right-hand pointbreaks in Baja Sur.

Steve McQueen covered in mud, and maybe millions of illegal aliens known as Nematodes.

A hurricane or tropical storm had just past over the peninsula while I was further south surfing, and on my way into The Wall, the dirt roads (read goat trails) into the Wall were pretty wet from all the recent rains.
With muddy puddles everywhere, how could a boy and his Xterra resist? OF COURSE we hit them at full speed!
The result: A completely mud covered Steve McQueen (that’s my Xterra’s name).

After my two weeks of traipsing around most of Baja, and a two hour wait in the border line, I pulled up to the Border Patrol booth and handed over my passport. The agent looked at me, looked at my passport, and looked at my truck.

“You need to go to Secondary for Agricultural Inspection.” He said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Your truck is covered in mud. Go straight into the Secondary area and wait for instructions.” He responded.

When I got there, I received a more through explanation from the Agent. She informed me that the US Department of Agriculture has a huge concern for soils being brought across the border. Things like Mad Cow’s Disease and other soil-borne organisms, specifically of concern were Nematodes. These are all considered threats to plants and animals in the United States.

No soil or earth of any kind is allowed into the United States without a permit issued in advance by USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine Permit Unit.


I kindly let the agent know that if I went back into Tijuana to a car wash, the “Nematode infestation” on my beloved Steve McQueen would end up in the stormwater system, and be carried into the Tijuana River Channel, and into the United States, and I’d end up surfing with those Nematodes a few days later.
Whereas if I went to my local car wash in Chula Vista, there are regulations and enforcement to protect that from happening.

Fortunately she let me pass into the States, but my question is:
Why is the City of Tijuana getting a pass when it comes to the illegal immigration of millions of Nematodes into the United States via the Tijuana River? Why is the USDA not raising hell about this? Why is the US Border Patrol not enforcing this, after performing many studies, and having dozens of Agents working the River Valley getting ill?

Why isn’t Tijuana required to get a permit from the USDA for all their Nematodes?

Until the USDA decides to answer that, enjoy some photos of a mass immigration of Nematodes into the United States below…

Check Out Some Prints

Fine Art / Photojournalism

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