Created as a stop-gap to save undocumented migrants from getting killed by cars on Interstate 5 near the San Diego area border with Mexico, the signs soon took on a symbolic use beyond the original intent. The last one appears to have been stolen and won't be replaced. The Union-Tribune spoke to Caltrans designer John Hood about the sign, which was a replacement for an all-text sign:
"It doesn't just mean they are running across the freeway," Hood told the Union-Tribune in 2005, describing his choice of imagery. "It means they are running from something else as well. I think it's a struggle for a lot of things, for opportunities, for freedom.”
Caltrans installed 10 signs, focusing on areas like San Ysidro and the San Clemente checkpoint where migrants were known to cross the interstate on foot frequently.
The silhouette of a man with a mustache and woman in a dress running with their young daughter, her hair in pigtails trailing behind her, has been repurposed by different sides of the immigration debate over the years.
• Last iconic 'immigrant crossing sign' disappears (San Diego Union-Tribune)