WWW: NPR – Borderland Dispatches

Santa Muerte - Image from NPR Borderland: Dispatches

Santa Muerte – Image from NPR Borderland: Dispatches

Journalist Steve Inskeep of NPR’s Morning Edition recently traveled 2,500 miles along the US/Mexico border, photographing and documenting what he saw:

We were seeking stories of people, goods and culture that cross the border. Heavily fortified though it is, the border remains the place where two nations meet, trade, clash and influence one another. It’s a place to see history — how the United States spread across the West, into lands that once belonged to Mexico — and a place to glimpse both nations’ emerging futures. We meant to explore big issues like immigration, crime and business through the personal stories of people who cross.

The resulting stories document various aspects of life along the border, including the tales of immigrants, asylum seekers, musicians, vendors, students, border patrol agents, cartel hitmen, and ordinary folks on both sides of the line.

The dispatches culminate in a remarkable slideshow, featuring incredible photos and twelve short stories of life on the border. In a few minutes, viewers can learn all about the history of the border; life in El Paso, Juárez, Tijuana, Brownsville, and Matamoros; the origin and purpose of “carpet shoes”; language used along the border (how do we refer to people who cross illegally? how do we refer to US citizens of Mexican descent?); the popular Santa Muerte; the recipe for “Tostilocos” (crazy Tostitos); and more…

The stories are incredibly interesting. For instance, Inskeep witnessed border patrol agents detain a number of children who had just reached US soil. Ironically, agents had to wait for a carseat to arrive before taking one child, who had possibly trekked thousands of miles through jungles and deserts, to the border patrol station to initiate summary deportation. The US government apparently seeks to ensure absolute safety of this child before returning her to a desperate situation. If you are interested in learning or teaching about the border, please spend a few minutes exploring the series or viewing the slideshow.

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