The story that I want to tell right now is that of a first-generation Filipino-American who lived on the American-Mexican border for most his life. My parents both individually moved to the US and met and got married here. I was born in Flora, Illinois, but my parents moved to a suburb of Chicago shortly after. I lived there until I was about 7, at which point my family moved again (this time including my two younger sisters) to El Paso, Texas. El Paso, from that point on, became my home, even when I moved her to New York for college. El Paso is basically the westernmost point of Texas, where the Lone Star state meets both New Mexico and Mexico. It goes without saying that because of this proximity, the people of El Paso and its sister city across the border, Ciudad Juarez, are intrinsically tied to each other. Growing up there, I was always the odd one out in my group of friends, in that I didn't cross the border in a consistent fashion nor did I have family across the border. But even though I was not affected personally, I saw how the lives of my friends and their families were affected, and truly, how cool it was to be able to essentially live in two countries at the same time. Many people would cross the border (either from Juarez to El Paso, or vice versa) in the morning to work, go to school, go shopping, whatever, and then cross back over at night to go home. It was this constant movement between the cities, and the flow of culture and experience that made El Paso such a vibrant home for me.
That being said, the current presidency's rhetoric and policy plans threatens that. President Trump has fueled hate and fear toward many minorities, one of his main targets are Mexicans. His talks about a wall concern me and many of my friends and acquaintances because we know that the border isn't the hell hole that he describes, but unfortunately, most American citizens who have never been down to the border believe everything that he says. There's already a huge wall/fence maybe 15 minutes away from where I live, and you can trust me when I say that it's already way too high. We don't need to spend millions of dollars to put up another one. I think that Trump's rhetoric and demonization is harmful for the values that the US claims that it has, and that ultimately, when we begin to blame others, we neglect to see when problems arise from ourselves. Day by day, it seems like the focus of hatred and anger is being shifted away from those that break the law to entire peoples, whether or not they're breaking a law. And in doing so, Trump potentially puts my friends and their families' lives in jeopardy. I would hate for the day to see someone I'm close to be personally affected by policies that I think are largely more harmful than good.
Issue No. 18 • Spring 2017