Crossing the boundary

US-Mexico border evokes fear of unknown


graphic by Margaret Debenport

Story by Andrea Loredo, staff writer

There’s a knot in my throat. I am scared, nervous and excited all at the same time. I hope and pray in my mind that things are going to be just fine. This is not the first time we’ve crossed the border, and it is not going to be our last. I was born in Mexico, along with both of my siblings and my parents, which means that most of my family still lives there. We go and visit them every year during Christmas break and sometimes during the summer.

To get within Mexico you have to cross the Mexican-American border. Crossing the border is pretty simple if you have the required paperwork, but it is not about how simple or easy it is to cross; it is the feeling and experience of actually crossing that is interesting. Every person that crosses the border has a different experience, but the feeling of fear is a universal part of the journey.

It’s not always fear of what is happening, but more so of what could happen, the chances of something going wrong. Everything can start off as smooth as a sailing boat, but just as fast, that boat can sink, and you can find yourself at the wrong place, in the wrong time and with the wrong people.

I grew up hearing stories about the murders and kidnappings that happened around the border and how bad things were in Laredo, Texas. This brought me fear. Fear of what could happen if something like that were to happen to my family and me. Soon, I would stop thinking about the the things I was excited to do, like see my family, and focus my attention instead on the “what ifs.”

These are the thoughts in my mind from the moment we leave our house until we reach Mexico or return home. I think about it every second of every minute as I see my dad driving in the driver’s seat and when I look over to see my brother asleep next to me.

I can try to fall asleep and hope that we will be closer when I wake up, but when I open my eyes and look outside, I realize that less than an hour has passed since I last asked where we were. I try to pass the time by looking out of the window, but I am met with the sight of people on the side of the street begging for money or food. I try to ignore their pleas by closing my eyes, but I can still hear them. Even with the windows rolled up and my headphones blasting music, I can still hear them. They soon become a distant memory, to my relief, and I open my eyes again.  

Things have changed a lot over time, but that fear still comes and goes with me every time I make the journey. The road is long, and I know that anything could happen while crossing the border. However, I also know that things will be okay as long as I stick with my family and refuse to let fear get to me.