Amor por la Frontera

Poster by Benjamin AlireSaénz
Note: I'm a month late. Oh well.

July 17th I attended a Solidarity Procession supporting immigrant rights and immigration reform. Organized by Annunciation House (a shelter and immigrant rights non-profit) here in El Paso, the march was in response to the never-ending violence along the border, this place where we live--in particular, a Border Patrol agent’s recent shooting of a young Mexican man who was on the Mexico side of the river. The young man died. The shooting took place near the El Paso / Avenida Juárez Bridge and was witnessed by people walking back to Mexico. Cinco Puntos author, and El Paso resident, Benjamin Alire Saénz helped organize the march.
--Bobby Byrd


A defining characteristic of the United States is that of a nation of immigrants. The thread and fabric of this nation is a tapestry of nationalities that in many ways is greater than the sum of its parts. Integral to this tapestry is the Hispanic immigrant and especially the Mexican immigrant, who has been coming to the US for generations. Hispanic immigrants, documented and undocumented have helped build the nation. They have harvested our crops, washed our dishes, helped raise our children, cared for our elderly, fought in our wars, built our railroads, sidewalks, rock walls and homes, prepared our food, helped form our church communities, and made us stronger as a nation.

But in the recent past, and especially since 9-11, the nation has seen a growing movement against the Hispanic/Mexican immigrant that seeks to criminalize and dehumanize him or her. To this end, vast amounts of tax dollars are being used to conduct raids on businesses and homes, tear apart mixed documented families, imprison tens of thousands for lack of documents, build fences on the border, and implement enforcement-only policies to resolve the immigration crisis.

 For the US/Mexico border, this has meant increased fire-power with calls for even more border agents, the deployment of the National Guard, drones, detention facilities, and the general militarization of border communities. The policy of enforcement and more enforcement in an environment in which the immigrant is vilified and demonized is turning neighbors into enemies. The fruit of enforcement-only policies is violence, the kind of violence that was seen on June 7th with the shooting death of a teenager on the banks of the Rio Grande, and on May 25th with the death of a 35 year old man in San Ysidro, and on July of 2009 with the shooting death of a Border Patrol agent in Campo California. 


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