U.S.-Mexico border holds tragic immigrant stories. A new L.A. exhibition lets them speak
The U.S.-Mexico border is a dark, winding stream that splits the earth in two.
When our tour guide, Carlos, and I travel under it, we travel through a world in transition. The lights of L.A. glow from our car windows and the city is a glowing orb. The sidewalks are filled with tourists who are walking to and from bars and bodegas, from their shopping to the beach. This is a city that is still in transition, waiting to see what comes next.
On one of our drive-through passes, we stop at a roadside stop that offers “Mexican food.” It’s a little restaurant with a large concrete table and a few metal chairs. The place looks like it was made in the 1800s, as if an enterprising neighbor had decided to open an ice cream parlor after a long dry spell.
We are the only customers in this restaurant. The Mexican man who serves us turns out to be a friendly, quiet, elderly man with a scraggly beard and long stringy hair. He tells us that he’s been serving food at the crossroads for more than 40 years.
From him, we learn that the border is more than just a river or a road, it’s a place with a human history and culture.
“It was an accident that we came over here,” he says. “A lot of young Mexican people crossed over legally and then crossed over without papers. But the Mexican government sent us over here to make things normal because they knew we’d do things like this.”
As he was crossing the border, he says, he saw the same trucks that were pulling people over to the line waiting to drive them over to the U.S. side.
“We saw the same guys who were pulling people over and letting them go right out. There was no way to know that this was going to become a policy. So we came over here.”
A Mexican man helps take a photo of the “U