I live eight crow-flying miles from the Mexican border, in a small town called National City immediately south of San Diego, California.
Yes, that border, between the United States and Tijuana, Mexico. One of the border towns and areas that the 45th president insists is flooded with criminals of all sorts sneaking there way into our country to rape, murder, and steal American jobs.
Awhile back I created and posted the sign you see here on my Facebook page. I’d seen several others and hoped it was the start of something bigger. It wasn’t, but it could still happen I suppose.
I grew up crossing the border
In truth I’ve lived most of my life in San Diego County, crossed the border back and forth with impunity before 911 and have always felt safe. I grew up in the era of Green Cards and braceros (both legal ways Mexican citizens have been able to work in the United States), and when the term ‘wet back’ was mostly acceptable, or at least we whites thought it was.
When I was growing up more than a few Mexicans and others from South America worked for my father’s 50 acres of lemons, limes, and avocado trees in Fallbrook, not quite 60 miles north and a bit inland from where I am now. When my now-grown kids were little, I hired often illegal Mexican women, both old and young helped me raise my children and did a darn fine job. We never thought much about who was legal and who was not in those days. (And just another reason I can’t/won’t run for office in case you were wondering.)
Crafting fear of the other
I bring this up not only because our 45th president keeps insisting we’re all in incredible danger without his wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but also because not so long ago I discovered a dear friend of mine in Oregon admitted he was afraid for me because I’m so close to the border. Until then I hadn’t realized how well the campaign of fear of the ‘others from the south’ was working. Like me, my friend is more progressive than not. Unlike me he grew up in many countries, but never in the Americas. Having no experience of our border in Mexico, he bought the story. He no longer does, thank goodness.
Yes, I’m a minority where I live and shop. (If I haven’t made it clear I’m as ‘white’ as they come.) Many, maybe even most of the people around me have two languages, and speak both pretty darn well. Like many white Americans I only have one language. Oh I have a few words of Spanish, but am not even close to fluent. Which is my loss.
Sometimes I take the 5 a.m. trolley north to downtown San Diego, usually to transfer to a train to travel and visit grand kids. At that time of day the north-bound trolleys are jammed with people crossing the border to work in the U.S. Someone always gives up their seat for me — I am after all an abuela (grandmother) and it shows. So there I am for 20 or 30 minute, surrounded by these hard workers, mostly male, with a few moms with kids on their way to daycare and work, most of whom have some English but don’t use it there, feeling totally safe. And when a bunch of us get off I’m still safe. You know the feeling. Safe in a crowd of strangers.
Even late at night on a return trip with way fewer people, I feel safe.
I don’t understand where number 45 gets his ideas that we have a border crisis. I live here and I can tell you day after day we don’t. I have legal and not legal people (I still don’t really get how one can be an illegal person.) around me all the time — although it’s impossible to tell just by looking.
The only crisis
The only crisis on the border in my not very humble opinion on the topic is because of the mess 45 has created. You know, separating kids from parents, slowing commerce down, making people afraid of each other when there’s no cause.
It’s time to give up this illusion of danger and move to compassion for our neighbors.