I am from la frontera, meaning “frontier” in Spanish but translated in English as “border.” The news over the past few weeks might make you think that places such as my hometown — McAllen, Tex., in the Rio Grande Valley — are under siege from waves of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, a crisis of lawlessness so extreme that drastic measures are needed. Tearing children from their parents, or, when that proves too unpopular, corralling families in tent cities. Then there’s the $25 billion wall that’s needed to safeguard the United States from the threat of being overrun.
The view from down here is different. In a 2018 rating of the 100 most dangerous cities in the United States based on FBI data, no border cities — not San Diego, not Texas cities such as Brownsville, Laredo or El Paso — appeared even in the top 60. McAllen’s crime rate was lower than Houston’s or Dallas’s, according to Texas Monthly in 2015. The Cato Institute’s research consistently shows that immigrants, both legal and undocumented, are markedly less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
In the U.S. borderlands with Mexico, our inherent duality is what helps our communities thrive. We work hard, attend school and worship just as Americans do all across the nation. Yet we are overwhelmingly Latino, and a quarter of us are foreign-born. We are here and there. Some of us were born here, and some of us were not. But it doesn’t matter — pero ni modo — all are welcome.
Read the rest of this article at The Washington Post.
Victoria Ochoa is a Harry S. Truman scholar from the Rio Grande Valley and an incoming J.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.