Monday, April 6, 2009
La Frontera, A Logo
Borders in the world are often the walls of fortresses, the ramparts by which nations concentrate their wealth and power at the exclusion of others. The U.S.-Mexico border has the most legal and illegal crossings of any border in the world, and the longest separation barrier in the world.
Crossing borders is a dehumanizing process, even for me, a privileged white citizen of the U.S., I am at the mercy of the people in the uniforms and the laws they represent. My friend is also a U.S. citizen, but as a Mexican faces an ordeal of proving her citizenship every time she recrosses the border. My gay friend cannot go home to his family in Venezula because if he leaves he will not be able to come back to his husband here. These anecdotes are among the mild symptoms of an institution that cuts up lives.
In 2008 there were 190 migrant bodies found at the Arizona border, down from 237 Arizona-Mexico border deaths in 2007 (Arizona Daily Star).
Migration into the United States for some is the final phase of a migration through Mexico from Guatemala or El Salvador. Crossing the border from El Salvador to Guatemala, I saw posters advising people planning illegal crossings. The advice that has remained most vivid in my mind: never get into a sealed container.
It is always somewhat absurd to me to see the abstract idea of a national border actualized, like this photo of the wall between Tijuana and San Diego:
The Department of Homeland Security has a logo intended to communicate its legitimacy by connecting it to time-honored national seals. By making a logo instead for the border, or la frontera, I hope to remind people of the human experience of our national policies and institutional practices, and hopefully instill compassion for people subject to the forces of migration we unleash through unfettered globalization.