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Front and center: Las Palmas frontwomen Laura Magdaleno at Forth Worth’s OK Corral. upturned cymbal that he clobbered with its handheld match; and rounding it out, a stand-in manufacturing a tuba sound with a keyboard. Like the majority of men at Karina’s quinceati era, they wore cowboy hats, incredibly pointy cowboy boots, and gaudy belt buckles. Just the same, we’ll scale wired fences as we would a wall, even if it reached the clouds. Juan Ramirez, the band’s manager, stood stage left, compulsively checking his cell phone. We don’t come here because we like this ground. Many of us come hoping for the day we can return. As long as there is misery in our hometowns … we will have no choice but to keep coming, even if it means we get deported or thrown in prison. In other words, F-you, George Bush, for signing the Secure Fence Act of 2006, in effect green-lighting a 700-mile, 15-foot-high fence between Mexico and the U.S., making it that much harder for the undocumented to infiltrate the land of opportunity. “The worst thing is ..i” Juan Ramirez said of the wall, before changing his mind: “The best thing is they got Mexicans doing it.” Beat. “Cheap labor.” Before the quinceariera, members of Las Palmas, all in their 20s, had gathered in the living room of the Grand Prairie house that Ramirez, 42, built when he wasn’t otherwise occupied with his fulltime job as an air-conditioning electrician. Arranged in front of a fireplace, its bricks bearing a poster of narcocorrido singer Lupillo Rivera, their instruments awaited a post-interview, pre-quinceaFiera practice session. Immigration policy has polarized Americans, regardless of their proximity to the border. There are those who have come to appreciate hardworking, family-minded laborers, and others who perceive only cultural threat and resource strain. Love ’em or hate ‘ern, their influence is undeniable. In January the Dallas Morning News named “The Illegal Immigrant” its 2007 Texan of the Year. “Everybody went through it one way or another,” said Jose Vitela, Las Palmas’ musical director. “They crossed the border or have friends who did, or family members. That’s why we picked these kinds of songs.” “El Muro” is one of two politically charged canciones written for Las Palmas by Dallas songwriter Ramon Melendez, whose songs have been recorded by the likes of Los Tigres del Norte. Another such song in Las Palmas’ repertoire is a remake of Marco Antonio Solis’ “Los Alambrados” \(rough translation: “Illegal immigrants caught in the barbed wire of exactly activist, but performs incendiary songs that draw attention to Mexicans as underdogs. “What they do [to] Mexico, why don’t they do [to] Canada,” Ramirez asked. “I mean, why one side and not the other side? “A lot of people already know what’s going on,” Vitela added. “But our people, MARCH 7, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23