People living in the United States but near the border with Mexico feel like they’ve had enough.
“Our community is already heavily militarized,” said Bekah Hinojosa from Brownsville, Texas. “Cameras line the international bridges, we are surrounded by border checkpoints, border patrol helicopters can be seen in the sky, and agents patrol every highway. We reject this latest move by Trump and Governor Abbott to deploy National Guard personnel and further militarize our home.”
When Texas Governor Abbott recently visited El Paso he was met by protesters waving signs and condemning his decision to send troops to their community. “We say NO National Guard” read one sign. “NO Militarizacion de Fronteras” read another. These people don’t want their border militarized. They say they don’t have any more crime than other parts of the country and they have become pawns in Donald Trump’s political games.
“El Paso is safer than Washington D.C., than Chicago, than most of the country’s major cities. But they still insist that we need walls, that we need to militarize the border,” said Fernando Garcia executive director for the Border Network for Human Rights.
According to Garcia, the Trump administration has a “distorted reality” of what the border is, and he is harming them by saying that their home area dangerous. But a review of actual crime data calls that conclusion into question, since the data shows that the southern border is one of the safest parts of the United States.
What many residents fear, however, are the unleashed actions of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.
Hinojosa said that since Trump became president, “Border Patrol agents have stalked sick kids as they were being transferred to medical facilities, detained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, raided life-saving medical camps along the border and even killed.”
Residents of border communities are also not happy with Abbott. “Governor Abbott didn’t bother to listen to…border residents, even after people protested to remind him this is not a war zone and that more troops are not welcome. This is our home, not a playground for political games,” said Dani Marrero Hi, director of bilingual multimedia platform Neta Rio Grande Valley.
“Statewide, 61 percent of Texans oppose building a wall,” according to recent polling. What border communities want is to live their daily lives without fear. “We’re tired of being used as part of the political gamesmanship,” said Texas Civil Rights Project’s Efrén C. Olivares. “People who are not from the border, who have never been to the border, use these imagined ideas of violence. And that is not really compatible with what’s really happening there. We, the ones who live on the border, have to live with the consequences.”
Beto O’Rourke is the current Congressman from the El Paso area and he has been running a very strong race for the U.S. Senate.
He has been campaigning against the border wall since he knows is constituents don’t want it. If he can beat Ted Cruz this year it will be partly because of this issue.
Politicians like Trump and Abbott are using border residents for their own partisan purposes, but in doing so they may be helping to turn Texas from a red state into at least a purple state, and also will be helping to create a Blue Wave in the 2018 midterm elections.