For Robert Montano, every day is a hustle along the San Ysidro border.
Still, he says it’s worth the long hours of physical labor as a pedicab driver.
“I make enough money to live like a king in Mexico. The dollar goes a long way down there,” said Montano.
While the money he makes here as a pedicab helps his family survive in Tijuana, the U.S. dollars he’s sending back home are also helping drive up Mexico’s economy.
“This has been a long time coming for Mexico’s middle class,” says Lynne Walker, professor at University of California San Diego’s Institute of the America’s. For the first time in decades, Mexico’s middle class is emerging.
In the past 15 years, Walker says, the country has tamed inflation, creating a more competitive, more global country.
This not only helps Mexico’s infrastructure, but also improves the country’s crime-ridden past.
Although migration numbers have reached zero for the first time in 40 years, for those who cross the border daily just to make a living, there’s still work to be done.
“The USA needs the Mexican worker and the Mexican worker needs the dollars,” says Montano.
And until the situation improves, Mexico’s upward mobility will only go so far.
“Of course I don’t like to come up here and work up here and go down there this is not my country I would like to stay home — that’s my dream,” says Montano.