Think of the border with Mexico. What is the first image that comes to mind?
Whatever dreams and nightmares and visions you are seeing when you think of Mexico and our border with Mexico, they could use some context. Information about the border is spare, sparse, and often outlandish. Hyperbolic descriptions of criminal hordes lurking just across the Rio Grande are everywhere. The media uses the Mexican border to generate headlines and clicks and traffic: Violence and corruption and death are the standard images of any particular day.
Politicians use the Mexican border to justify all manner of intervention and spending. The current administration proposes to build a border fence or wall along the entire length of the Mexican border. The cost of this intervention is supposed by many to be in excess of $30 billion. The benefits of this construction, murky and ephemeral as they are, will clearly accrue most to those companies chosen to carry out the high dollar work.
The people this impacts the most will be those that live on the border. These very same people are nearly absent from the conversation about the proposed border fence or wall or whatever you want to call the thing.
Which brings us in a roundabout way to introducing a new American Babylon project which seeks to document the lives and stories of people who actually live on the border with Mexico: "1989 Miles of People & Change" is a journey where we are traveling along the entire length of the border. All 1989 beautiful, insane miles. From Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California. From Reynosa to Tijuana: the story of the border is not what the media and politicians have been talking about.
We set out on this journey one week ago. We've interviewed and spoken with a widely divergent subset of people who live and work along the border:
• Multi-generational landowners who are fighting government attempts to seize their land for use in construction of the border fence.
• Educator and activist Scott Nicol of the Sierra Club about the effect of the "levee wall" on southeastern Texas habitats.
• Civil rights lawyer Efren Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project about the eminent domain proceedings which are occurring in Texas and the incredibly heavy handed process the government is using to initiate these takings.
• Marianna Trevino-Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center in Hidalgo, Texas. Marianna has been fighting against Border Patrol usurpation of her organization's land without any legal recourse.
Follow along at facebook.com/AmericanBabylonNow
, where we'll be posting a new video and more photos by American Babylon photographer Jimi Giannatti each day at our FB page and here at The Range. Our first video features fifth-generation resident of Los Ebanos, Texas Aleida Flores. She and her family successfully prevented the government from seizing their land nearly 10 years ago for a different version of the "wall"—now they are fighting all over again.