Where Will the (New) Border Walls Go?

ATSCC Arizona CBP Operations
Border fence, Arizona. Credit: US Customs & Border Protection

The last round of border wall construction passed through Texas nearly a decade ago following the 2006 Secure Fence Act, with steel barriers being cut through nature preserves and private property (but avoiding golf courses and wealthy Bush familiars)

I was reminded of the incredible people I met the last time I followed El Rio from El Paso to the sea at a borderlands exhibit curated by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. Amid the photographic evidences of human struggle, frailty, and determination, was this graphic showing where fences and walls had already been constructed along the border.

Viewing this I was reminded of people like Mundo, about whom city folk are wont to characterize as being “off the grid,” a man who waxed elegantly on shared, simple human desires for ideals like freedom.

If the wall comes here, he says, he’ll slip over to Mexico, where there is more freedom.

“I just don’t go along with putting this fence up,” he says. “The Border Patrol, they’re trying to do their best … but when you’re living on the Rio Grande and they’re just right next door to you, what’s the problem of going over to his home to eat or him coming to your house to eat?”

Then, with quintessential Mexican hospitality, he invites us to his house. He brags on the “no chemical” Mexican chicken being pulled from the pit. Not like what you get in U.S. supermarkets, he says. As we talk about walls and fences and neighbors, Mundo, who can’t read or write, sums up the sentiment of the dozens of river residents I am going to meet this week in a phrase.

“Nothing’s really perfect,” he says, “but our freedom should be perfect. Your freedom should be a perfect thing.”

Freedom. A desire supposedly shared by wall pushers and resisters alike. In this case, a desire for which has since inspired Mundo to set up his house on la otra lado.

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