Immigration Crises: View From The Borderlands

From an essay written by Kathy Staudt, an Social Justice team member and recently retired retired professor of Political Science at UTEP.

We are all living in a time of renewed attention to the US-Mexico border, but especially to “border security.” The border security narrative operates during politicians’ campaigns for elective office, around budget times, and/or after the latest Hollywood films about organized crime in Mexico. After all, who can disagree with “security”? Until recently, too many people in the US always seemed willing to believe the worst about people of Mexican heritage or of people from the Global South, but images of children made a difference in the summer of 2018.

Writing here from the US-Mexico borderlands and sitting in what was formerly northern Mexico until 1848, my lived experience consists of everyday insights about migration, refugees, and children in detention camps and tent cities. The borderlands, at the frontlines of so much recent political rhetoric, consists of cities and towns, which like San Diego, rest at the top among safest cities in the US, unlike many cities in the heartlands of the country. Borderlanders live in interdependent communities with people in counterpart cities and towns of Mexico.

Here in the borderlands, our vantage points offer frontline vision for how Washington DC policy hits practice, particularly the demagogic policies and cruel practices. We have had our share of marches, protests, and emergency outreach to vulnerable people exposed to the illegality of border guards refusing to accept asylum-seekers. Family separation and a "zero tolerance policy" in 2018 have roused the conscience of people nationwide. I am elated, even relieved when I see pictures of both borderland and heartland people and their evocative signs: “no family separation,” “this is not America,” and so on.  Continue reading