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The town on the wrong side of America's drug war
May 16, 2011 6:51 PM   Subscribe

The town on the wrong side of America's drug war. An article on the Brownsville, Texas neighborhood cut off by the border fence. Via Crooked Timber
posted by serazin (26 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
All our towns are on the wrong side.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:06 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Let him come here and say that," was Ms Loop's response.
Wait, I don't understand. This lady is upset about the fence, and she's also upset about Obama mocking those who want to build more fences? No comprendo.
posted by nhamann at 7:12 PM on May 16, 2011


Pretty sure she's upset that the national discussion of immigration reform is carried out primarily through mocking.
posted by ryanrs at 7:23 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a hideous thing we've done on the border. That fence is insane.

Your film studies assignment for the week: watch John Sayles' film Lone Star. Pay particular attention to Míriam Colón's amazing performance as Mercedes Cruz, the Mexican immigrant grandma who loathes the wetbacks and yet has compassion for them, too. Texas border towns have very complex relationships with Mexico and Sayles' film does the best job I've ever seen capturing it. The Rio Grande's just a muddly ol slow river, it's hardly a border at all.
posted by Nelson at 7:24 PM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't know if I would be using that word to describe migrants Nelson. There is a lot of power in that word down here in the Southwest.
posted by Jaymzifer at 7:38 PM on May 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pretty sure he's using it to frame the grandma's perspective.
posted by boo_radley at 7:45 PM on May 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


I chose the word "wetback" carefully, Jaymzifer, with full awareness of what it means. (I'm from Houston). Actually I'm a bit unfair in using it to describe Mrs. Cruz' opinions: her character expresses a lot of contempt and anger at the illegal migrants who come across her property but she never uses such a hateful word directly. She's too compassionate. Anyway, Lone Star, beautiful film and a very subtle characterization of Texas border towns.

Please don't let my comment derail the thread; the real story here is how there's even a "wrong side" of the border fence at all. The subject of this story (Pamela Taylor) is in an insane, inhumane, impossible position. I'd be pissed as hell too if I were on the Mexican side of that fence. I'd like to think I'd have the courage to fight the fence. Via lawsuit, not wire cutters.
posted by Nelson at 7:53 PM on May 16, 2011


I'd like to think that I'd have the courage to fight it via wire cutters. :D
posted by Jacqueline at 8:08 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this might be either her house or someone in a similar situation. Wrong side of the border not for nothing, but
this corner of south-eastern Texas had its barrier constructed on a levee that follows a straight line from half a mile to two miles north of the river, leaving Ms Taylor's bungalow – along with the homes and land of dozens of her angry neighbours – marooned on the Mexican side.
These folks are on the wrong side of the levee.
posted by wcfields at 8:41 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, I don't understand. This lady is upset about the fence, and she's also upset about Obama mocking those who want to build more fences? No comprendo.

The President is making a joke out of the situation like there is no situation. From 800 miles away.
posted by Roman Graves at 9:44 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


@wcfields: thanks for the link. It also shows how contorted the border gets as it follows the river. I wonder if the river changes course, does the border follow?
posted by Hither at 9:47 PM on May 16, 2011


Lawmakers believe that is a fair price to pay for the political benefits of being seen as "tough" on immigration.

Jackals.
posted by bryon at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2011


Yes, she's a saint that battles racism with 3 pillars:
"First of all, it doesn't work," she says. "Anyone with a rope and a bucket can just climb on over. Second, they've used it as an excuse to reduce border patrols.
Thirdly, it's left people like me unprotected.
While the officers are guarding the fence, any drug smugglers can just walk up to my front door."
...
Oh wait, she's still a racist pig!
posted by uni verse at 10:20 PM on May 16, 2011


Am I missing something, uni verse? How does that smack of racism?
posted by Roman Graves at 10:24 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The article says she once found a 50 lbs package of marijuana in her flowerbed. If true, then the drug smuggler comment seems fair.
posted by ryanrs at 10:37 PM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh wait, she's still a racist pig!

Either way, the fence seems like it was poorly planned in this case.
posted by Hicksu at 10:43 PM on May 16, 2011


It's all pretty fair, especially for an old woman. Anyone that has spent time on the border knows that "drug smuggler" is not code for "dirty messican rapist", it just means drug smuggler. I guess you guys don't have a lot of pinche narcos running around in Seattle, uni verse, but please keep your informed opinions coming.
posted by Roman Graves at 10:49 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Drug smuggling in the area, uni verse, has become a deadly serious problem.

Actually I'm a bit unfair in using it to describe Mrs. Cruz' opinions: her character expresses a lot of contempt and anger at the illegal migrants who come across her property but she never uses such a hateful word directly.

I think you're wrong. I remember her muttering it, I think, the time they're jumping through her sprinklers. The full irony, of course, intended, as we later learn her backstory in one of the film's convoluted timeline sequences.
posted by dhartung at 10:53 PM on May 16, 2011


One morning, she found a package containing 50lbs of marijuana in her flowerbed. "I turned it in to the sheriff," she says. "I'm a cancer patient and when I told my doctor, he said I should have used the stuff."

You'd probably have to smoke an awful lot of that Mexican schwag to actually make you feel anything.

Seriously though, thanks for sharing this serazin.
posted by MattMangels at 12:49 AM on May 17, 2011


I would like to go on record that, in general, I prefer alligators to politicians, too.

Just when I think our political class couldn't get any more intellectually lazy, I read something like this. How did this plan ever get off the drawing board? We should all be ashamed.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:57 AM on May 17, 2011


Seems like a perfect opportunity to start ones own country.
posted by gjc at 6:43 AM on May 17, 2011


Brownsville is known as the place you take your car if you want it stolen, painted, broken into, etc. I wouldn't live there, and that fence is just one more reason not to live there. If I were her, I'd sell my house and move. Why continue to put up with it?

That town is awful, full of crime, rude people and racism - toward whites and blacks. The Mexicans don't like either. Don't care how that sounds, it's the truth. I avoid going there if I can help it.
posted by Malice at 9:49 AM on May 17, 2011


"If I were her, I'd sell my house and move."

And who will buy it now that it's on the wrong side of the fence? I doubt she can sell it without taking a big loss, much less make enough to afford to buy a decent house elsewhere.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:02 PM on May 17, 2011


From the article:

Anyone with a rope and a bucket can just climb on over.

With a bucket? Whaaat? How?
posted by Harald74 at 12:24 AM on May 18, 2011


You tie the rope to the bucket handle and then throw it over the top of the fence Harald.
posted by pharm at 1:42 AM on May 18, 2011


Jacqueline writes "And who will buy it now that it's on the wrong side of the fence? "

I wonder if say the Hells Angels or some rich privacy nut would be interested in property in the no mans land. You could provide your own security; you don't have to go through Mexican customs to get there just US customs coming back. Or do you even need to go through US customs? It would seem that there would be a strong constitutional argument preventing the government from searching you when going between two places in the US (or is that covered in the 100 mile customs zone thing?). And you should be able to buy the land cheap anticipating a rise in value when the fence comes down.
posted by Mitheral at 3:53 PM on May 18, 2011


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