Tijuana traces its modern history to the arrival of Spanish explorers in the 16th century who were mapping the coast of the Californias. As the American conquest of northern Mexico ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Tijuana’s new international position on the border gave rise to a new economic and political structure. The city was founded in July 11, 1889 as urban development began. Often known by its initials, “T.J.”, and nicknamed Gateway to Mexico. Tijuana has been recognized as a most important new cultural mecca. The city is the most visited border city in the globe; sharing an approximate 24-kilometre-long border (15 mi) with its sister city San Diego, over fifty million people annually cross the border between these two cities. This metropolitan crossing makes the San Ysidro Port of Entry the busiest land-border crossing in the world. It is estimated that the two border crossing stations between the cities proper of San Diego and Tijuana account for 300,000 daily border crossings alone. 

Migrant deaths along the Mexico–U.S. border occur hundreds of times a year because of those attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico illegally. The number of deaths increased in the mid-1990s with exposure (including heat stroke, dehydration, and hyperthermia) being the leading cause.

According to the United States Border Patrol, 1,954 people died crossing the U.S–Mexico border between the years 1998-2004. In the fiscal year ending September 29, 2004, 460 migrants died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2005, more than 500 died across the entire U.S.-Mexico border. The number of yearly border crossing deaths has doubled since 1995. In 2009, 417 deaths were reported across the border. Yet the statistics cited by scholars and the media are only the number of known deaths and do not include those who have never been found, underestimating the actual number of migrants that have died attempting unauthorized border crossings.

Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Affairs has compiled data including deaths on the Mexican side of the border area during the period from 1994 to 2000. The data shows 87 deaths in 1996, 149 in 1997, 329 in 1998, 358 in 1999, and 499 in 2000.