Steel Border | Mark Lindsay

"See that hill over that? That's Mexico." Our dear friend seemed excited to point that out to us as we looked out from a high, Arizona hill. The Arizona hill looked much the same as did the Mexican version. It was fun to imagine the hills in different colors like one sees on a map. But, no, they looked pretty much the same. "We'll drive down there and a bit and check out the border up close," he said as we walked back to the car.

The border between here and there is a long, dirt road, a wire fence, and strange steel contraptions that remind me of pictures of the D-Day invasion. The crisscrossed steel was added recently to stem the tide of illegal crossings. Apparently it has done nothing of the sort. "Did you find a stretch of fence without any holes in it?" a border-patrol officer asked wryly as he checked us out. Apparently we looked suspicious from a distance. A second patrol vehicle came to join the first. It must have been a slow day in the border-patrol office.

The officer was only half-kidding. You could see spots where the barbed wire had been cut and boards had been placed across fence and steel obstacle. That way you can drive a car right across the barrier. While the steel might look foreboding and relieve some of paranoia, it does little to keep out the Mexicans. They keep coming.

Both sides of the fence look pretty much the same. The border towns of Nogales—on either side—even share the same name. While the Mexican version of Nogales seemed more exotic to my USA eyes, the eyes of the people on both sides were exactly the same. They were filled with yearnings, hopes, fears, joy, and sorrow. They were filled with humanness.

The area around this part of the border is of stark and rugged beauty. But, the border itself seems grown out of dark fear. People on both sides seem to tolerate it but I suspect living near a steel barrier and barbed wire wears you down after awhile.

"Yup," our friend nodded after the border patrol agents left us in the dust of their fat-tired vehicles. "Both sides look pretty much the same."