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NM Video Series Aims to Change Depiction of Border Cities

Polls show about six in 10 Americans (62%) say they disapprove of the treatment migrants are receiving at the U.S.-Mexico border. (josecab/Pixabay)
Polls show about six in 10 Americans (62%) say they disapprove of the treatment migrants are receiving at the U.S.-Mexico border. (josecab/Pixabay)
July 26, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – President Donald Trump's call for a wall on the southern U.S. border is often accompanied by negative depictions of border cities, and the ACLU of New Mexico is determined to change that. Its new video series, called "Voices from the Border," paints a far different picture from the political narrative that border towns are overrun with illegal immigration and drug violence.

George Rodriguez is a field organizer for the ACLU of New Mexico in Las Cruces, about 50 miles north of the border. He says the videos show the reality of border life through the eyes of residents who have called the region home their whole lives.

"It's really more about imagining a future where families can remain together, where asylum-seekers are treated with dignity and respect, and where people's loved ones can live without the constant threat of harassment from border patrol agents," says Rodriguez.

The video series is online on the ACLU of New Mexico website.

About one million people cross the southern border each day from either side for shopping, business and recreation. Despite rhetoric in Washington, DC, Rodriguez says border cities consistently rank among the safest in the nation.

According to federal data, from 2011 to 2015, all but one of the 23 U.S. southern border counties had violent-crime rates lower than the national average. Rodriguez says he hasn't experienced danger from migrants trying to enter the U.S. – but he has felt fear when coming into contact with federal agents at interior checkpoints, as the region has become more militarized.

"Unfortunately, I don't really have an option if I want to come in contact with them, because they're so far into the interior of the U.S. that, for many people, just going to school or going to the movies, grocery shopping, visit the family – you have to come in contact with armed federal agents," says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez thinks the "build the wall" campaign has mischaracterized New Mexico's border towns and dehumanized those who arrive there seeking asylum. He hopes the "Voices from the Border" video series will help residents reclaim the narrative about their communities.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM