"Mexico is our neighbor," Michael G.Ronstadt (younger brother of Linda) said at the Common Ground on the Border event last week. For my fellow Oregonians, look at this map. If we lived in Oregon before 1850 Mexico literally would have been our neighbor. Someone asked me recently, "Pat, what do you think about immigration or crossing borders?" Well, let me share a few quotes I heard this past week at the Common Ground event from a cultural anthropologist, Maribel Alvarez, University of Arizona. .
"BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other." Ambrose Pierce.
Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.”
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
Maribel Alvarez shared some interesting facts about the border - especially the relationship between immigration and the global economy.
FACT #!: Border is 2000 miles long including four U.S. states and six Mexican states. There are three natural barriers: the Rio Grande, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. In 1996 Operation Gatekeeper "militarized" the border crossings at El Paso and San Diego. That action de facto closing the borders in these two cities, created the "funnel effect" that pushed people into desert crossings. The rationale was that the desert would be a natural deterrent. One can imagine the conversation at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "Who will cross the desert? Only desperate people without options or hope.
Migration, the act of moving from one place to another in search of a better life or even just for survival itself, is a natural part of the human condition.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?