A Hard Days Journey into Nogales

Our trip to Nogales, Mexico was an eye opening experience.  After reading the article “Justice on the Line” by the Border Action Network, I had expected to experience something on the trip that would stand out in my mind as to how the Mexican citizens living on the border were really treated.  The article describes how the majority of citizens of the border town, whether legal or illegal have personally been a victim of injustice by the border patrol or know someone who has been.  It would have been interesting to spend a little time on the boarder walking around and seeing how the border patrol and other citizens acted toward each other.  The way the article made it out to be I thought these were every day occurrences and I would have liked to experience something like this myself.  The border patrol also seemed very cooperative and attentive to our group.  They answered any questions that we asked, as far as they could.  They gave no indication in the way they answered questions and in the wording of their statements that there was any sort of mistreatment of undocumented emigrants that they apprehend.  It is not that I think these things aren’t happening, I just feel that if we were to get a good understanding of they way people are being treated we should have spent a little more time being out of the vans and walking around talking to people.  The article could also be somewhat biased.  When they were conducting their interviews they may have omitted things that would have weakened their case.


One part of the trip that I greatly enjoyed was the lunch with the Mexican family.  I found it interesting that the woman we ate lunch with did not want to live in America.  She only wanted to go there about three days a week to clean houses or some other work.  The money that she could make in America would be almost five times what she would make working in Mexico.  One thing that I found interesting was that her manager gave her permission to take the days off to take part in the Borderlinks experience.  However, instead of only docking her the one day of pay she was docked what would be three days.  Another reason that she did not want to live in America is because it is too fast paced there and no one comes together for meals and other forms of entertainment.  It was similar to what I read in the article “Passport Photos” by Amitava Kumar.  Her house was stone and cold.  It was unfinished and she was the first to admit that they didn’t have much, but it was her house, she owned it, and they were happy.  That’s something that doesn’t exist much in America.  Mexican's have a great closeness with their families and take pride in what they have.  In America we are too materialistic and do not appreciate and spend the time with our families that we should.


The time spent at the maquila could have been better spent somewhere else in my opinion.  I had a similar feeling with the border patrol.  Visiting the maquila in Mexico would not have been much different from visiting a manufacturing plant in America.  I would have rather gone to one like you would read about in the papers where there is mistreatment of the workers, poor working conditions and low wages.  I know that no one is going to let people come in freely to witness this so I personally think our time could have been spent better doing something else. Again, possibly getting out of the van an walking around and talking to people on the Mexico side of the border might have been a little more interesting.  I had never been to Mexico before this trip.  For me personally I would have loved to go into some of their shops and look around.  This would give me an understanding of the price and quality of products between Mexico and the United States.

Overall, the experience was quite enjoyable.  I had never been to Mexico and some of the things I saw is what I had expected, but I also saw some things that I hadn’t expected.  It is amazing to me how the Mexican's are able to make ends meet with how little of an income they earn and how much they have to work to get what little they have.  I don’t think I will ever take for granted where I am at in my life compared with others.  Although you may think things in your life are bad, there is always someone else out there who is just a little worse off.

Sam Haldiman

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