A Message From the Border

Check out this letter that appeared in the New York Times print edition, and on NYTImes.com:

To the Editor:

Re “Political Rivals Aim for Gains at the Border” (front page, March 1):

The border is not a theater set. One could be forgiven for believing otherwise. Republicans and Democrats alike, for many years, have had these oddly scripted visits to the border, explaining the ways they are “deterring” migration.

While Republicans have an effective if misleading message of “an invasion,” Democrats have been unable or unwilling to articulate a competing vision. If you live on the border, as I do, you recognize that the farther you get away from the border, the greater the fear and misunderstanding becomes. You also realize that deterrence doesn’t fundamentally work.

The border is, by its nature, porous. It is not a hard edge that you delineate with a wall and close at a whim. It is a place of interaction, of blending and exchange and unique “fronterizo identity.

In El Paso, tens of thousands of people cross every day, including many U.S. citizens who live in Ciudad Juárez, because of family ties, education or the cost of living. People work, go to school and socialize on both sides. Even during the pandemic, U.S. citizens were allowed to cross freely.

My husband and I have hosted hundreds of visitors from all over the world. We would welcome President Biden or Donald Trump to come take a real tour of our cities.

They could learn so much from actually talking to migrants about why they have left, what they are hoping to achieve, where they wish to go and how they want to contribute to our country.

Instead, the migrants remain voiceless, and we have to put up with this perverse border theater. Mr. Biden can do so much better than this.

Vanessa Johnson
El Paso

Vanessa Johnson is my beautiful wife.

I am a lucky man.


  1. Biden can “do better than this” but it’s ridiculous to compare his mediocre policies with Trump’s monstrous policies.

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