‘I Want Nobody to Fear our Border’: West Texans, Mexicans March in Solidarity

Attendees carried signs that read 'Build bridges, not walls,' 'Viva La Frontera' and 'Love is Unity.'

West Texans and Ojinaga, Mexico residents hold hands across the international bridge in a show of mutual solidarity.
West Texans and Ojinaga, Mexico residents hold hands across the international bridge in a show of mutual solidarity.  Sarah Vasquez

About four dozen people stood in a row holding hands as a symbol of camaraderie Saturday morning at the international bridge that divides Presidio, Texas, and Ojinaga, Mexico. West Texas residents from Terlingua, Marfa, Marathon and Alpine drove an hour or more to join the sister cities’ residents and city officials.

Presidio High School art teacher Laurie Holman organized the event, saying she felt Donald Trump’s presidential win will negatively affect the region’s primarily Hispanic community and wanted to do something to show unity.

“I just wanted to do something positive,” Holman said. “I know there’s a lot of angry demonstrations. People are mad. People are angry. They’re frustrated and I do not blame them at all. I think it was important to show the world and show the area that we live in peace.”

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Nearly 83 percent of Presidio County’s 6,800 residents are Hispanic, according to census data, and the county has the lowest voter turnout in the state. Sixty-six percent of voters there turned out for Hillary Clinton, while Donald Trump received 30 percent of the vote.

Presidio City Council Member Dimitri Garcia said he wanted to reaffirm to Ojinaga after the election that they will stick together as a community.

“We’re not going to allow fear to go ahead and dictate the pace of what we’re going to do here in Presidio, Texas and West Texas,” Garcia said.

Dimitri Garcia, Presidio City Council member, with 9-year-old son Elijah: “It's imperative for me to pass this lesson on to my son, because he's the one that's growing up in this new nation and he's going to help shape it, so he needs to understand why we're here and why we're wearing the safety pins and what we're trying to do in this entire movement.”
Sarah Vasquez
Dimitri Garcia, Presidio City Council member, with 9-year-old son Elijah: “It's imperative for me to pass this lesson on to my son, because he's the one that's growing up in this new nation and he's going to help shape it, so he needs to understand why we're here and why we're wearing the safety pins and what we're trying to do in this entire movement.”
Rae Anna Hample, art teacher at Marfa Elementary School: “I have some students that came to me and they were crying after the election because they were told that they were going to have to go back to Mexico, and it felt so important having talked to them and having reassured them I would do anything I could to make sure that didn't happen because their community isn't in Mexico anymore. Their community is in Marfa and it felt important to come out here and stand up for them.”
Sarah Vasquez
Rae Anna Hample, art teacher at Marfa Elementary School: “I have some students that came to me and they were crying after the election because they were told that they were going to have to go back to Mexico, and it felt so important having talked to them and having reassured them I would do anything I could to make sure that didn't happen because their community isn't in Mexico anymore. Their community is in Marfa and it felt important to come out here and stand up for them.”
Urí Muñoz, Ojinaga's city administrator: “Let me tell you that you are welcome in Mexico, and I hope we are welcomed in the United States.”
Sarah Vasquez
Urí Muñoz, Ojinaga's city administrator: “Let me tell you that you are welcome in Mexico, and I hope we are welcomed in the United States.”
John Ferguson, Presidio mayor: “It's kind of a reaffirmation of what has been going on here for a long, long time. Presidio and Ojinaga are one large community. We're all kind of families spread across both cities.”
Sarah Vasquez
John Ferguson, Presidio mayor: “It's kind of a reaffirmation of what has been going on here for a long, long time. Presidio and Ojinaga are one large community. We're all kind of families spread across both cities.”
Voni Glaves of Terlingua: “I just want nobody to fear our border. Having lived here for the last 11 years, I found nothing but beautiful people.”
Sarah Vasquez
Voni Glaves of Terlingua: “I just want nobody to fear our border. Having lived here for the last 11 years, I found nothing but beautiful people.”
Leticia Garcia, of Marfa, left: “I grew up in a border town in Juarez near El Paso, and we never saw the differences or the walls being put up like they're trying to do now. Sister cities are great. I think economically both have an advantage to each other and together we can do things.” Azucena Carrasco, of Marfa: “I grew up in Mexico, well not full-time, but with my grandparents. As a child, I never really understood there was a border and then as you become an adult you start seeing the differences. It was important for me to come here to show that there is love across the border.”
Sarah Vasquez
Leticia Garcia, of Marfa, left: “I grew up in a border town in Juarez near El Paso, and we never saw the differences or the walls being put up like they're trying to do now. Sister cities are great. I think economically both have an advantage to each other and together we can do things.” Azucena Carrasco, of Marfa: “I grew up in Mexico, well not full-time, but with my grandparents. As a child, I never really understood there was a border and then as you become an adult you start seeing the differences. It was important for me to come here to show that there is love across the border.”
Laurie Holman, Presidio art teacher and the solidarity walk's organizer: “I can't change the world, but we can do some reassurance for our neighbors. We've lived in harmony and peace with Ojinaga and Mexico for hundreds and hundreds of years.”
Sarah Vasquez
Laurie Holman, Presidio art teacher and the solidarity walk's organizer: “I can't change the world, but we can do some reassurance for our neighbors. We've lived in harmony and peace with Ojinaga and Mexico for hundreds and hundreds of years.”

Attendees carried signs that said “Build bridges, not walls,” “Viva La Frontera” and “Love is unity.”

As they walked from Saint Teresa Church in Presidio to the bridge, the group of 35 Americans carried signs painted by Holman’s high school art students, wore safety pins as symbols of solidarity and waved at drivers and pedestrians as they passed by from both sides of the border, sometimes receiving a wave or a thumbs up in return.

Urí Muñoz, Ojinaga city secretary, said he was was proud to see American citizens join the 15 Mexicans on the international bridge and hopes it’s not the last time.

“We demonstrate that if we can do it together, we can do a lot of things,” Muñoz said. “Separate, we cannot do it.”

Garcia said he would have liked to see more of his constituents at the event. There were more attendees from the surrounding areas than from Presidio itself.

“The fervor here is strong, but I would have liked to see more people from Presidio,” he said. “I think it’s just counter-intuitive to the culture that we talk about it. We have very strong opinions about what what’s happening today, but there could have been more of us that showed up.”

Sarah M. Vasquez is writer based in Marfa, Texas whose work has appeared in the Big Bend Sentinel on Marfa Public Radio and in other publications.

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