Along the border, immigration and trade are on the minds of voters

Garcia, 33, is a first generation US citizen and currently works as the crime victim program coordinator for Las Americas Immigration Advocacy Center. While immigration has been top of mind this election season, she says that many misunderstand what life is truly like along the border.

El Paso borders the Mexican state of Chihuahua — it’s considered a “Hispanic Center” by the American Communities Project — just one of 15 different community types we are profiling in the lead up to the 2016 election.

About 11.5 million people live in counties considered to be “Hispanic Centers” — they’re categorized this way due to the large number of Hispanics that live in the area. According to the US Census Bureau, 81.3 percent of people in El Paso County identify as Hispanic or Latino.

“As a person from the border, I have learned to be able to appreciate how important the border situation is, and how it reflects so differently from what people experience away from the border,” she says. “On a professional level, I’m very frustrated with how the border is completely disconnected from people who have never been in the border.”

While GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump questions the effectiveness of US border security controls, Garcia has a different experience.

“We’ve had a border fence for many years now, and we’ve had sensors and helicopters that cruise on a daily basis, and drones and all of these different type of things being used to prevent illegal immigration entries,” she says. “But we continue to hear this rhetoric about ‘securing the border’ and ‘more border enforcement’ when I feel like our border is extremely secure. We are one of the safest cities in the country.”

Though Garcia is concerned about the “militarization of our border,” which she says began back in the 1990s and escalated after 9/11, she acknowledges that many in her community have been touched by drug-related violence in Ciudad Juarez, across the border.

By T.J. Raphael for PRI
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