Soldiers, Farmers, and Gatekeepers at the Border

Wall mural Nogales McIntosh

Border wall mural, photo by Jonathan McIntosh, used under Creative Commons license

The Pentagon announced January 14 that U.S. troops will likely be staying at the border through September, “giving rides to Border Patrol agents and conducting more trainings.” Border residents continued to reject the wall and insist that they want to stay on the land they have farmed for generations.

“You could give me a trillion dollars and I wouldn’t take it,” said [Eloisa] Cavazos, whose land sits along the Rio Grande, the river separating the U.S. and Mexico in Texas. “It’s not about money.”…

The Cavazos family’s roughly 64 acres (0.25 square kilometers) were first purchased by their grandmother 60 years ago.

“They rent some of the property to tenants who have built small houses or brought in trailers, charging some as little as $1,000 a year. They live off the earnings from the land and worry that a fence would deter renters and turn their property into a “no man’s land.”

“On the rest of the property are plywood barns, enclosures for cattle and goats, and a wooden deck that extends into the river, which flows serenely east toward the Gulf of Mexico. Eloisa’s brother, Fred, can sit on the deck in his wheelchair and fish with a rod fashioned from a long carrizo reed plucked from the riverbank.

Back in legal limbo land, more than 60,000 immigrants have seen their immigration hearings postponed because of Trump’s government shutdown. Many already have waited for years for their court dates, and now face delays of additional years. In Minnesota approximately 959 cancellations of immigration court hearings have occurred as of January 11. An estimated 2,272 court hearings will be cancelled if the shutdown continues through February 1.

On the other side of the border, asylum seekers still wait in Tijuana. Matt Cameron, a lawyer working with asylum seekers, writes about Jasson, a teen he encountered in Tijuana, who was murdered there as he waited for his chance to ask for asylum. “Jasson’s body was found on a Tijuana side street a week after we saw him to safety [at a shelter],” he writes. “The list killed him.”

Cameron says the list reminds him of Franz Kafka’s story, “Before the Law,” which describes another hopeless quest:

Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.”

–Franz Kafka, “Before the Law”

In better news: a federal court ruled that the Trump administration cannot add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census.

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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