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Beyond the Border

by MATEO PIMENTEL

Far too many Americans are settling for less. Accepting the popular rhetoric and philosophy shrouding the Mexican-US border and immigration is mindless step in the wrong direction. Too many have acquiesced to ubiquitously spoon-fed solutions that do not seek an earnest promotion of social justice. “Doing something” about immigration, “fixing the border” and “reaching across aisles” announce the generally insipid cries often sung from Washington’s soapboxes. Non-starter debates and “bipartisanship” plague our ability to be a creative people who seek a real, just solution, and the political dick-wagging we have grown accustomed to does nothing but stymie our ability to be as radical as the border needs us to be. And we need to be radical.

Many current popular notions about the border and immigration reform seem to emerge as self-evident truths which politicians readily reify as they conform to these political talking points. The expectation is that all will be indiscriminately accepted, if only for having been put forth and championed by elected representatives and media. This horse-and-pony show serves its purpose by paralyzing us from revolutionizing our paradigms and by keeping us from action.

Yet if all the hackneyed solutions are the wrong ones, if we keep playing this broken record, then just how radical do we need to get? Well, while a good number of Americans might eventually accept that we must to tackle immigration and border issues via “comprehensive immigration reform”, I contend that we need to put an end to the border altogether. Just get rid of it!

A few possible incentives for getting rid of the border include: ensuring preventative measures against more unwarranted desert-crossing/border-crossing deaths; ensuring some rights or legal protection for people who reside in the US, who work and pay taxes but whose origin is another place; preventing “reform” measures which cater to the more racist elements likely to appear in legislation or policy regarding the border; protecting millions of immigrants within the US from being slandered as criminals who have broken laws and must pay for their crimes; stopping the government from enacting fines which would legally decry these people as ‘separate’, but ‘equal’; preventing the destruction of more family units; promoting more racial and ethnic equality between both nations and the population flux which spans the border region; accepting the US as one of the world’s largest Spanish-speaking countries, and working with this truth rather than against it for bigoted agendas; and, the promotion of socio-economic equality which is not beholden to origin of birth or race or ethnicity.

Many fail to realize the border does nothing to prevent any person from entering the United States. For my home state of Arizona, this seems to be the major qualm that most uphold (and, of course, we are helpless to remove the xenophobic/racist nuance to their argument). It is a lifeless point, just as a border patrol officer once informed me during a ride-along: “The fence does nothing to keep anyone out; it just slows them down.” Ultimately, the border is as useless in keeping people out of America as it is in keeping US drones out of other countries.

The border does, however, serve to trap untold numbers of other Latin Americans within our country, in order to carry out some twisted form of servitude—forever harangued by the penalty of deportation, suspicion of terrorism or the constant lack of rights or legal protections afforded to any ordinary citizen. In this sense, it is quite a tyrannical mechanism. So, if the border (or a fence in the desert) in fact does not do what most people believe that it does, then at the very most the border can only be understood as a symbol of oppression; not a symbol of our freedom or our protection.

What Americans must firmly grasp is that the age of nation states is withering in the shadows of an ever-globalizing economy and worldwide war. The time of borders is as antediluvian as perhaps the politics which existed amongst dinosaurs. Now governments both large and small mainly exist to serve one master: profitable economy. So as the US government continues to hide behind the curtain, pulling the strings like a sinister travesty of the Wizard of Oz, we as a people will push forward to rethink the border altogether. We will no longer find ourselves beholden to “comprehensive reform” and “reaching across aisles”. We will eliminate the border because we know it is just another gimmick of empire. It has got to go.

Mateo Pimentel lives in the southern Andes region of Perú.

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Mateo Pimentel lives on the Mexican-US border. You can follow him on Twitter @mateo_pimentel.

CounterPunch Magazine

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