Don’t fence me in!

–We didn’t cross the border; the border was put between us! The words belong to Gustavo Lozano human rights activist from Nogales Arizona and from the NGO, Border Action. Nogales town is split by the fence that runs from east to west along the border. Gustavo remembers a time when he could crawl under the fence and buy his mom’s groceries in the USA before crawling back home. If he was caught by the US border police he would simply be escorted to the border. Today Gustavo is living legally on the US side of Nogales, but he’s not to happy about the country where both he and his son lives.

–If a Latino is caught without documents he will first be jailed and then placed in a detention centre. Before he is transported to the border the authorities will try to force the immigrant to sign a voluntary return form stating that he or she will never cross the border illegally again.

As the border police are getting more efficient and the fences are getting higher, stronger and longer it is getting more difficult and more dangerous to cross. But according to Gustavo the immigrants still come. They just have to take bigger risks doing so. Crossings are big business and Mexicans are paying up to $ 3000 to organized criminals to be led to the least guarded spots, far out in the dessert. Many people are dying, either because they can’t take the hard trip through the dry and hot borderland, or because they fail to pay the mob enough money for the crossing.

Gustavo finds it inhuman that families are split because of the fences. He finds it inhuman that there are families who live their lives hidden indoors, because they fear to be stopped by the police out in the street. In his opinion the Hispanic immigrants are needed in the USA. A lot of jobs, in farming and construction are done by Mexicans.
–Why not make the system work for them in stead of against them, he asks.

–No matter what the border police tell you; the truth is that Latinos are discriminated all the time. If a Latin American and another American citizen are standing side by side with rucksacks on their backs, guess who will be stopped and checked? It just doesn’t make sense that a country of immigrants is discriminating other immigrants, Gustavo says.

We’re now searching for illegal immigrants, or “Mexicans without documents”, as Gustavo would put it. Hopefully we’ll find someone who dares to speak on the record soon…

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