Clarissa Alvarez is a sophomore at The George Washington University studying political science and economics.
As a native of bordertown Laredo, Texas, I am often surprised by how little others know about the borderlands, and those who do mention it often bring up common misconceptions. For example, there’s the popular misconception that bloodshed and violence is commonplace along the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. While that may be true for Mexican border towns, the opposite is most accurate for U.S. towns along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, U.S. border cities tend to be some of the safest regions in the U.S. Law enforcement ranging from the local police department and Border Patrol to the FBI, DEA, Texas National Guard, and ICE tend to be overly present. Though, that may well be because U.S. border cities sit across what have been labeled as some of the most murderous cities in the world.
Geography and landscape differ from border state to border state. Some sister cities are separated by a wall, while others are separated by natural barriers like the Rio Grande River that runs along the Southern Texan border. To alleviate border security issues, a large influx of law enforcement is present along the edge of the U.S. border checkpoint, acting as a militarized-like zone. On the Mexican side of the border, people have get-togethers and parents throw their children small birthday parties along the narrow area of land beside the Rio Grande. Children jump into the Rio Grande and playfully splash water at each other, their parent’s watchful of their children, constantly reminding them to not go as far as to accidentally cross into the U.S. and attract Border Patrol attention. People on the U.S. side of the border generally do not want to know what happens, and they shut their eyes to the mishaps that occur on the Mexican side of the border. As famously said by a previous Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.” For U.S.-Mexico border cities that share a culture, there are evident political parallels and intersections between both countries.