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Hickey compares the indocumentados’ heroic odysseys to those Homer celebrated. She draws similarities to her Irish expatri ate compatriot Samuel Beckett, self-exiled in an interior landscape that seems to be part of the greater desert. The items that Hickey and Taylor retrieved from the wilderness cut to the quick. But what are they really? Criminal evidence? Cultural anthropology? Should we consider them “found art”? Or should we even think of them as art all? A friend of mine who recently returned from Tucson reported seeing Dia de los Muertos altars at “El Tiradito” \(The featured the discarded clothing of the indocumentados. Who knows? If this keeps up, Sotheby’s could be next. The Paso al Norte Museum, a peripatetic entity that sponsored “Lost & Found,” is dedicated to recording the passage north of the border in much the same way Ellis Island documents the Jewish diaspora to New York, explains University of Amastae. In a curious way, the project sits at the other end of the seesaw from the nearby Migra Museum, set atop a lonely mountain road overlooking the frontera, about 10 miles out of El Paso. It’s crammed with badges and portraits of famous desperados and heroic agents, their saddles and six shooters and scrapbooks, samples of contraband, and stuffed horses. Together, these two museums tell the true story of what my friend, west San Antonio corrido writer Salome Gutierrez, calls that desgraciada pobreza, the disgraceful poverty that pushes the migrantes ever northward. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed by the first Bush and the now-reviled Carlos Salinas in 1992, more than 4,000 Mexican workers, many of them campesinos displaced from the land by NAFTA agricultural imports, have died trying to cross that line to find jobs that North Americans do not want. They have drowned in the All-American Canal and the river that Mexico calls the Rio Bravo and the United States the Rio Grande. They have been bitten by vipers running through south Texas, suffocated to death in boxcars, died in car crashes after high speed chases or simply been shot down by the Migra. They have fallen into ravines or froze in the winter snow up in the Rumarosa \(the most dangerous part of the border, where it is U.S. immigration policy to chase them in a strategy to “up the risks” And mostly they have dropped out there in the cruel desert never to rise again as the vultures circle slowly in the spotless heavens above. It is a daunting task to make sense out of all this, let alone to try to make art of it. At least Hickey and Taylor have done that much. They have succeeded in making artand making us think. John Ross is back at home in Mexico City’s Centro Historico after completing a three-month trek across the United States. For more information about the Paso al Norte Museum, or to contact Professor Jon Amastae at UTEP about venues for the exhibit, see www.pasoalnorte.utep. edu/overview.html. Bad Bills, continued from page 12 for pushing the limits of its authority to vet books for “factual errors.” In 1996, they objected to history books that “over-emphasized” the cruelty of slavery. Last fall, the board blocked publishers from including basic facts about contraception in high school health textbooks. Board member Terri Leo attempted to further edit the health books to define marriage in strict heterosexual terms, and characterize homosexuality as leading to “increased rates of drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide.” Publishers rejected most of Leo’s last-minute proposals. Under Howard’s bill, however, Leo might have prevailed. Bad Bills are compiled by the Observer’s Bad Bills Girl, who rises vampire-like from hibernation every two years to suck the blood from vile or absurd state legislation. If you have a likely candidate for “Bad e-mail [email protected] . …to loose the chains of injustice… -Isaiah 58:6 AMERICAN CHURCHES and the PALESTINIANS February 11 and 12, 2005 Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary 100 East 27th Street Austin, Texas 78705 presented by The Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, Friends of Sabeel-North America & Pax Christi USA For more information: click on Conferences or Email: [email protected]; Monday Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER .1/21/05