In Eagle Pass, life revolves around the border and it takes all conversations with it. The conversation started over coffee, continued through a Mexican buffet, past the chocolate cake and then through a second round of coffee. It covered the border, the gangs on both sides, and the recent captures of 200 lbs of marijuana by the Border Patrol until finally it landed on talk of the new Arizona Law. I was wary to interject my opinion, because I didn’t know where my two companions stood on the matter, but it was very clear that they weren’t happy.
I got the impression from their tone that they felt the people in Arizona need to suck it up and deal with it. I’ve had a hard time reading people politically down here. One woman feels strongly against illegal immigration and yet has a bumper sticker that reads, “NO BORDER FENCE.” The mentality down here is totally different than I’ve ever experienced. It’s one based on doing what it takes to survive, and yet following the rules at the same time.
The conversation heated up when talk of Washington suing the state of Arizona came up, I heard, “We can’t even leave town without being asked if we are legal.” The comment smacked my perceptions in the face and before I knew it, I was lost again in stories of captures at the checkpoint.
The checkpoint is about twenty miles north of town and staffed by Border patrol, complete with big ferocious looking dogs and semi-automatics. It’s just another stop for residents leaving town, but for someone from the Midwest it’s another new experience. The checkpoint is a set up in hopes to catch whatever made it through the border that shouldn’t, and they do, but it means you add an extra twenty minutes to your trip out of town.
This is life for Eagle Pass. For now I’m sweating it out whenever I see Border Patrol or the Police, soon enough, much like those in Arizona I’m sure it will become just another part of life.