My Trip to the Border

by

Saturday, July 10, 2021


On June 29 and June 30, I visited the U.S.-Mexico border with a few friends.

We were a couple of miles from Mission, Texas, in a heavily patrolled section that often straddled both sides of a landowner’s property. In some sections, the actual line between the two countries was as much as a mile away from the barriers. But we did not need to be on the banks of the Rio Grande itself to see the chaos of the last several months unfold. 

Heavily-fortified buses rolled through guarded (and sometimes unguarded) gaps in border fencing, ferrying migrants to either a nearby detention center or processing in another state. 

Border Patrol agents (who are some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet) were clearly exhausted and overstretched, and most of the agents I spoke to were guarding country roads or wooded areas rather than the border itself. 

Not everything can be seen by a visitor though. Other problems are less overt. Border communities were slammed by COVID-19, both economically and epidemiologically. Businesses in the Rio Grande Valley, and in many other border communities, rely on Mexican citizens crossing the border to shop and dine. 

While the Biden administration continues to leave the door wide open for undocumented migrants, that door is sealed shut for visa-holding Mexican citizens. Americans can cross the border freely; however, prospective customers on the other side must wait until Biden’s whims change. 

“Anybody who’s lived in Texas, close to any border knows that when you live in a border community, you’re essentially living in two countries,” said Teclo Garcia who is Laredo, Texas’ director of economic development. “You’ve got family and friends and favorite restaurants and stores on both sides of the border. One side of their world has been completely shut off.” 

Despite months of border communities and states pleading for attention and assistance, the Biden administration has pretended that the border crisis does not exist. Legitimate efforts to solve the problem are out of the question.

For months, Vice President Kamala Harris, who Biden appointed to be his “border czar,” has been gallivanting around Latin America, promoting a Call to Action for businesses and social enterprises to make new, significant commitments to help send a signal of hope to the people of the region and sustainably address the root causes of migration by promoting economic opportunity.

For months, she didn’t visit the border itself.

Even when she finally made her way to El Paso last month, it was as a brief stopover on the way to Los Angeles. She never came within ten miles of the border itself and was 1000 miles away from the heart of the crisis in Rio Grande Valley municipalities like Mission. 

Furthermore, the Biden administration has restarted “lateral flights,” in which some migrants are flown from one area of the border to another area of the border, and only then deported back to Mexico. Some immigrant advocacy groups told NBC News that these migrants are often led to believe that they will be staying in the United States. On the other hand, the New York Post reported that other migrants are being flown across the United States without proper ID, and are subsequently permitted to stay. 

I do not know whether there were any migrants on my flight from Harlingen back home to Dallas, but I do know that none of these policies make any sense. The federal government is looking upon the problem from afar, implementing policies that seemingly have no relation to each other whatsoever. Many are too lenient; others are too harsh. 

Is it too much to ask that the federal government have a consistent vision regarding border policy? Is it too much to ask that the federal government not mislead people about what is happening to them, especially if the end result is deportation? Is it too much to ask that President Biden and/or Vice President Harris visit the real border for a reason more substantive than a convenient photo-op?

I was in south Texas for two days, and I saw more than the Biden administration has in nearly six months. Joe Biden owes people on both sides of the border answers, and better policy stemming from those answers. 

Regardless of what one’s ideal immigration system would look like, it is clear that the status quo is incoherent and unsustainable. 

 

Garion Frankel studies education policy and management at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. He serves as the Policy Director for the Texas Federation of College Republicans, as well as a Contributor for The Western Journal and Young Voices.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Garion Frankel

Garion Frankel studies education policy and management at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. He serves as the Policy Director for the Texas Federation of College Republicans, as well as a Contributor for The Western Journal and Young Voices.

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