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Project Title: A Line in the Sand: Narratives from the U.S.-Mexico Border
Mentor: Juan Rojas
The U.S.-Mexico borderlands have been variously described as a war zone, a land of opportunity, and as a “third nation” that is neither American nor Mexican. In recent years, the border has become increasingly militarized: thousands of additional Border Patrol agents have been hired, millions of federal dollars have been channeled into wall construction and border surveillance, illegal entry has been criminalized for the first time, and migrants are deported en masse. In response, migrants’ rights activism movements organize resistance in the rural desert and in border towns. Although the debate over immigration has become a political controversy and a dividing issue for the American public, the vast majority of the stories of the borderlands are untold.
This paper explores a collection of personal narratives from the U.S.-Mexico border, recorded in Tucson, Eloy, and Douglas, Arizona in July 2017 with the assistance of a Theory-to-Practice Grant. These narratives represent a wide range of perspectives and viewpoints, from evangelical church members, Border Patrol agents, humanitarian volunteers, local politicians, migrant rights advocates, congregates of sanctuary churches, cross-border ministry, and detention facility wardens. These stories of individuals’ lived experiences create a diverse, complicated, and sometimes contradictory view of what it means to live by the border; this paper weaves together three prominent and recurring threads throughout the various narratives: how Christian faith informs an individual’s view of the border, if and how the border impacts personal safety, and finally, what makes the border region a unique space. While the diversity of these narratives may complicate our perception of the borderlands, understanding the variety of perspectives is crucial for developing an understanding of today’s border issues.