no more crosses
07.05.05 // 3:42 a.m.

Crosses on the lawn

About four and a half years ago a UCLA student group, Conciencia Libre, set up hundreds of small crosses along the grassy area of UCLA's main thoroughfare, Bruin Walk. Each one and a half foot tall white cross bore the name of a man, woman or child who died attempting to cross the US-Mexico border.

In the days surrounding el Día de los Muertos, Conciencia Libre sought to bring attention to how the militarization of the border through Operation Gatekeeper and other policies were contributing to the deaths of hundreds Mexicans and Central Americans.

As I walked to/from class, meetings, the MEChA office, and work I'd read the names on the crosses. I thought about the hopes of each man and woman. I wondered about his/her family, children, spouse, and parents who relied on the remittances he/she would send back. I did this all a little detached and feeling like the issue didn't really affect me and my family. See, all of my dad's siblings and almost all of my mom's family is here in the US. They came as children and have raised their families here. The ones still in México are my parents' cousins. On my dad's side, a few of his cousins have immigrated. They come con sus papeles. I suppose it helps that my paternal grandmother and her siblings were US citizens. This isn't to say that no one in my extended family has crossed without papers.

One afternoon as I walked with a friend, I read a name on the cross that made me shut up about the latest boy I liked. I read the name aloud and my friend noticed too. I can't remember the first name on the cross, I suppose it was a common Mexican man's name like José, Jesús o Juan. His last name was the same as mine, and he was from Guanajuato.

My last name is uncommon. I've met less than a handful of M's I'm not related to and the ones I am related to all come from Guanajuato. Naturally, I wondered if he was a not-so-distant relative.

I wondered how this man (or boy?) had died. Was it heat stroke? Thirst? Cold? Did he drown? Was it another cruel force of nature? I never knew. All I know is that he lost the very thing he was trying to improve, his life.

Hosts on the rancho

When I was in Guanajuato last year, I visited the M side of the family. Most of my dad's cousins are still on the rancho a few miles outside of Salamanca, but a couple had gone to work in Houston. It seemed as if only the kids and women remained on the rancho. All males of working age (aside from 7 of my 9 uncles) had gone de mojados to work in Houston. The kids would tell me about their older siblings who weren't around, "Chayis vive in Houston." Or they'd tell me about the uncle who had borrowed his brother's passport to cross because he could easily pass as a gemelo (twin).

Tere, my tío Carmen and tía Juanita's sole daughter, told me about her brothers. Their photos lined the walls of their home. I tried to find the resemblance between the cousins I had never met and the M men in my family. I couldn't find the same features I was familiar with in my cousins' faces. Instead, I just saw proud young men holding onto their pretty young wives and chubby babies in holiday portraits taken at a Houston K-Mart or Sears hundreds of miles from el rancho.

Freshly picked corn

It is unlikely that the man who died crossing the border was related to me. I would have heard because my mom always tells me the bad news.

All this has come to mind as I read about the US Border Patrol's migracorridos via Noti Los Angeles and a recent (but rather late, according to Noti) article in the LA Times. If you read Spanish, I suggest Noti's write up about corridos written to deter potential immigrants from making the dangerous trip across the border.

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Me siento: tired
Escuchando: dj dave soul's mixtape (currently on some jay z song)

Más reciente:
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antes // después

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