Borderlinks Report

On the class excursion to Mexico, one portion of our trip bothered me. At one point, we spoke with Jenn Allen, the Director of Border Action Network and a contributing writer of “Justice on the Line: The Unequal Impacts of Border Patrol Activities in Arizona Border Communities,” a report generated to draw attention to the “plight” of migrants and citizens alike in the border cities. In our conversation, she frequently made reference to the brutalities and harassment that the Hispanic communities were experiencing at the hands of the U.S. Border Patrol. Ms. Allen also described the fire power that the agents carried as “excessive,” echoing what was stated in “Justice on the Line.” What she did not touch on was how these incidents are not done by every agent that patrol. “Justice on the Line” also touched on how it “…does not appear to be isolated occurrences or the actions of one or two bad apples…there are systematic problems within the institution…”  Ms. Allen and the report displayed a negative attitude toward the Border Patrol as a whole.

I went to the Border Patrol, expecting to be told lies and half-truths regarding their jobs and how they interact with the residents of Nogales and the migrants entering illegally.  Instead I heard how agents are often in danger, making the arsenal necessary to protect themselves. I also heard of the good things they do every day, such as, helping find lost children, giving the immigrants so many chances (deterrence) to turn back before finally approaching and arresting.  Obviously, the opportunity was not available to address the issue of brutalities the agents are accused of, but I can only assume, that the “bad apple” agents are a very small minority.

 The other piece of our trip that impacted me was I came away thankful for what I have in the United States. I have been complaining about my $8.40 an hour wage at a retail store, the people in Mexico are considered privileged to make that in a day, doing physical labor. Here in the U.S. it is allowed to create unions, unlike many maquilladora employees (Pantin 21).  The companies in U.S. do their best to create a safe and good working environment, in Mexico, the maquilladoras that are considered safe and good are not in the majority, and do not have the same standards as a U.S. company would have. The Otis Elevators plant is a good example of a safe and good employer.  I am just thankful for the minimum wage here in the U.S. and the availability of so many jobs for anyone, male or female.

 The Mexico trip was an eye opening experience. It was enlightening and a little disheartening. I do not blame the people desperately trying to infiltrate our borders to find a new and “better” life for themselves and their family. I believe the change is going to have to come in the legal operations, more visas, work permits, etc…before the flow of “illegal immigrants” slows down.


Return to Jennifer's Home Page                   Return to Migration & Culture