Eagle Pass, this once sleepy Texas town, has been overrun by a swarm of agents and officers in the wake of Governor Greg Abbott's war on immigrants on America's southern border.
This once sleepy town is now inundated with border agents, police and soldiers, the fruit of the Texas governor's war on immigrants.
“When you approach Eagle Pass from San Antonio, is there nothing for miles around? and then you hear the helicopters.
That's how he describes this small Texas town that has now become a flashpoint in the ongoing fight over immigration policy. What used to be "a passing town," says Ortiz, has been invaded right now, and not by immigrants.
"Everywhere you see police, border agents, soldiers," says Ortiz, describing how he packed his laptop at a local Starbucks to attend a press conference on the situation at the border. “It was full of police officers and agents. So I had to sit outside," he explains.
The scene Ortiz describes is the result of Governor Abbott's increasingly brutal policies attempting to stem the flow of migrants arriving at the southern border, most of whom are women, children, mothers and fathers fleeing appalling conditions. in their countries of origin.
Manuel Ortiz, a sociologist, journalist and documentary director for Ethnic Media Services and Peninsula 360 Press, reports that even those who favor strong border security find Governor Abbot's new policies too extreme.
Ortiz's photos, taken during a recent trip to the region, paint a bleak picture of the hope and despair that drive immigrants, on the one hand; and the brutal measures advocated by officials like Abbott and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, on another. Floating spiked barriers, buzz saws and barbed wire line stretches of the Rio Grande that separate Eagle Pass from Piedras Negras on the Mexican side, while around the scorched ground lies the debris of passing immigrants: tattered shoes, bottles empty water
An exhausted three-year-old boy looks up at a state trooper as his father and mother, their faces sunburned, crouch in the shade of a tree, assuring him that they will bring him food. They wait, hopeful but uncertain.
This is a community with deep and storied ties that transcend the border, says Ortiz, ties that will not be severed by floating death traps and barbed wire? images one would normally associate with places like the DMZ that separates North and South Korea. In fact, he says, Eagle Pass residents are fighting back — even Abbot's former supporters now say his policies have gone too far.
People like Jessie Fuentes, who has a kayak business in Eagle Pass, or Mother Isabel Turcio, director of Casa Frontera Digna in Piedras Negras -where up to 100 immigrants are given shelter and food a day- are organizing to protest against measures that they qualify as inhumane; measures to inflict bodily harm on exhausted and impoverished people who - as generations before them have done - were seeking refuge, safety and the opportunity for a better life in America.
"This country was made by migrants," says Ortiz. “And what Abbot is doing is treating immigrants as enemies. He is waging a war against migrants, who are the very people who built this country."
This note was originally published on Ethnic Media Services, and you can check it by clicking here.
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