Only one of the 10 iconic Caltrans caution signs emblazoned with the image of an immigrant father, mother and daughter running for their lives remains. They once dotted Interstate 5.
As a child of the border (I grew up 8 miles from the U.S.-Mexican border with family on both sides of the line), the cultural, political and economic impacts of this line were very tangible in my life, but to mention family. This sign was a symbol of mass migration and cultural change in Southern California and I would pass one on the way to my grandmother’s house. As a fixture of the cultural landscape, it also became a visual talking point that served as a lightning rod in the political landscape. During the 80’s and 90’s, immigrants from Mexico were coming in to the United States is large numbers, but since the 2000, that dominant stream has dried up, rendering this sign no longer necessary near freeways crossings. Mexican migration to and from the United States is a contentious topic where political ideology can be louder than the actual statistics. Since 2009, more Mexicans have been leaving the United States than entering it (PEW Research Center). Economic and demographic shifts in both countries have led to this reversal.