SAN DIEGO — Gabriela Esparza has a standing date on most Saturdays to talk to her mother, on a schedule that never changes. She drives down Interstate 5 and turns off into a sprawling wildlife habitat bounded by the beach and Pacific Ocean and an 18-foot galvanized metal fence that stretches as far as she can see.
She makes her way toward a small yard surrounded by steel mesh and waits until 10 a.m., when a U.S. Border Patrol agent opens a heavy gate. Her mother is on the other side, in Tijuana, Mexico, waiting to see her daughter through the checkered grate, perhaps to touch her fingertips. They stay as long as they can, until another family needs a turn or the agent in charge warns, “five more minutes,” and the gate is locked shut at 2 p.m.
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