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Promote Justice in Mexico and the Borderlands

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I remember arriving to Ambos Nogales (Nogales, Sonora & Nogales, Arizona) in 1994. Dairy Queen Blizzard in hand, I walked by the crumbling mix of chain-link fencing and rusted metal sheets that bisected the downtown, with families from both sides of the border streaming through the ports of entry to go grocery shopping, celebrate a cousin’s birthday party, or attend church services.

The implementation of NAFTA and sudden devaluation of the Mexican peso spurred noticeable changes in the community that year.  Young men and women from the farming regions of southern Sonora, Sinaloa and elsewhere in the interior, who were no longer able to support themselves, arrived in Nogales en masse in search of jobs in the maquiladoras. And multinational corporations flooded Mexican border cities to open factories to take advantage of the lucrative business opportunities and declining wages.  At this time, I also became aware of an increasing number of migrants crossing through the desert in indescribably arduous journeys to be reunited with family members in the United States or to find a job to support loved ones back at home.

 In the months that followed, I noticed an uptick in the number of Border Patrol checkpoints on my drive home from work, a constant reminder that you were under surveillance. I also began to take notice of the unique nature of the border region — a place of astounding beauty; a place of strong the familial, cultural, and economic ties, that tightly bound each side of the border to the other; a place that was simultaneously ignored and scrutinized by federal authorities.

Years later, following a return to my hometown, Washington, DC, I was thrilled to find the opportunity at LAWG to work with grassroots advocates to push for humane, sensible, and accountable policies towards the border region and Mexico. Right now, I believe that we are at an important crossroads regarding U.S. immigration, border security and counternarcotics policies.  Unprecedented organized crime-related violence, fueled by narcotics, is taking a devastating toll on communities throughout Mexico and the border region. Failure to fix our broken immigration system coupled with ‘deterrence-based’ border security strategies have contributed to the deaths of thousands of migrants in the border region in recent years. Steamrolling over the concerns of border communities, environmental advocates and neighbors to the south in a rush to build the border fence has only exacerbated the situation and left a legacy of mistrust. 

Far too often, discussions about Mexico and borderlands on the air waves are laced with vitriolic and divisive rhetoric, and news articles splashed across the front page fail to paint a complete picture of the region.  I look forward to the opportunity to use this blog to share information and updates with advocates like you to provide a deeper look and closer analysis and foster a better understanding of these complex issues in order to move us closer towards justice for the borderlands and Mexico. 

Keep your eye out for upcoming blog entries on these issues. In the meantime, check out the “Promote Justice in Mexico and the Borderlands ” section of our new website.