Meet Lupe Félix, who crosses the US-Mexico border twice a day for high school

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Lupe and her mom, Amalia. Her mom wasn’t able to attend graduation because of her immigration status. Photo courtesy of Lupe Félix.

For Lupe Félix, senior year was supposed to be all about prom, hanging out with friends and graduation. She envisioned that her mom would be at her graduation, celebrating the milestone. But then her mom got stuck on the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Her mother, was experiencing visa issues and went to Mexico to resolve her legal status. Instead, she wasn’t allowed back home to the United States. Félix, a U.S. citizen, moved to Tijuana to be with her parents and spent senior year commuting across the border to high school in San Diego.


Lupe Félix and classmates at Southwest High School in San Diego celebrate their graduation. Lupe will be attending San Diego State University next fall. Photo courtesy of Lupe Félix

A sign at the pedestrian bridge over the Tijuana River heading to the US border crossing. Photo credit: Jesse Hardman

Every day, twice a day, she crossed the border wearing earbuds and a big backpack, to get to school and back.

“I can still cross, my mom can’t. She’s a strong woman, she doesn’t show it, but I know she's sad,” she said. “I don't get angry I just get frustrated, because to me the border isn't necessary, I guess. I don't know, to me it’s just like an imaginary line that we have to cross everyday.”

Félix will attend San Diego State University in the fall and wants to study social work and journalism. Her mom was taken out of school in 3rd grade to help raise her siblings, and her dad never went to school, he started working when he was six years old.

“Seeing that nobody in my family has ever been able to pursue their careers because of obstacles they have to overcome or adjust, drives me to be the one to be the example and break the cycle of dropping out,” she said. “I will eventually get my own house, be financially stable where I can help my family or do whatever I need to do.”