The immigration conversation gets a lot more interesting when both sides have a say. It would be even more interesting if the U.S. government would listen to the people actually involved in that conversation.
What they would hear is, “yes, there are border problems elsewhere. We don’t have those problems here. We’d like our border crossing opened, preferably with a nice bridge, please.”
The people in this particular conversation are the residents of South Brewster County and our neighbors to the South.
You may call them illegal aliens or wetbacks. Down here, we call them neighbors and friends.
The people of Lajitas – neighbors from both sides of the Rio Grande – came together to show their love, support, and willingness to work together to get the border crossing re-opened.
The unintended consequences of closing the borders have been devastating. Families divided, friends separated, economies adversely affected.
Simple things, like getting groceries, gasoline, or visiting grandma have turned in to multi-hour ordeals involving driving to the nearest “legal” border crossing and then driving back on the other side.
It’s time. It’s time to admit that we made a mistake and fix it.
May 11, 2013, the friends and neighbors who live in Lajitas, Texas held an event called “Voices From Both Sides.”
Local musician, bartender, and community leader Jeff Haislip ram-rodded the project. Don’t ever tell Jeff there’s not enough time to get it done.
Jeff had a lot of help. I know Collie Ryan was instrumental in coordinating things with the Mexican side. Trevor Hickle provided and ran the PA system. Maybe Jeff will chime in with credits.
There were bands playing live music on both sides of the Rio Grande, which is just a little stream at this point. There was food on both sides.
To be honest, the Mexicans kicked our asses – they brought a huge PA system. They had tents and pavilions. We had a small PA system and baked in the sun.
At first, we waved and yelled across the river. Then the frisbees and hula-hoops came out. Then, we started meeting in the river to talk… old friends hugged, new friends were made…
The Mexican band, apparently called “Mariachi,” played. They had an authentic sound, with accordian, saxophone, guitar, bass and drum. They played for a while.
Then, the Terlingua musicians played. Jeff, George Goss, Collie, Charlie Maxwell, Trevor Reichman, Charlotte Teer… somebody remind me who else…
The music alternated from North to South.
By this time, all pretense of a border was gone. Texans talked to their neighbors and friends on the South side, eating tacos and sharing beers together. Children from both sides played in the water, drifting from one shore to the other naturally.
Then, the presidente of the town on the Mexican side made a speech, put down the microphone, and started walking across the river.
Bill Ivey, the closest thing we’ve got to a mayor over here, met him half way. They hugged.
Then, we formed a human bridge- hopefully to represent the stone and metal bridge that is to come.
The pictures tell the story. For now, they are in reverse order.
Please use these pictures to spread the word.
You may use these pictures for non-commercial purposes, as long as you give photo credit to Pat O’Bryan and insert a link back to http://terlinguamusic.com