With all the enforcement activities in the news (from Sheriff Joe Arpaio's mass arrests and tent cities to higher rates of kidnappings on the border), it is easy to lose perspective of the real daily experiences of people living on the border themselves. Border communities are caught in the middle of an immigration enforcement system that violates human and civil rights, desecrates sacred religious sites, and too often harms the environment.
At FCNL, we advocate for immigration enforcement to be realigned with humanitarian values. Part of this realignment must be a recognition of how border communities are affected by immigration enforcement -- only then can protections be put in place that meet these communities' needs and respect their space.
Take a look at a new traveling exhibit, the Border Project, a mixed media art installation highlighting the perspectives of high school students living along cultural and political present-day borders. The exhibit examines the border of Arizona and Mexico, the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation and the nearest town of Ajo, through the eyes of students living in these communities.
Border enforcement affects people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse stories and cultures and goals, but each of these communities has a stake in what happens at the border. By finding commonalities -- as this exhibit has done, through art -- it is possible to bring these communities together and create a stronger sense of solidarity.
As the discussion in Washington, DC on comprehensive immigration reform moves forward, it is important to remember that these intersections can be a source of strength rather than a source of tension or disagreement.