Blogs » FAITH JOURNEY » Are you a US citizen?


Last week I was on assignment in Brownsville with reporter Gabe Samenza. We were interviewing Elizabeth Garcia on the dignity of life and immigration.

The Texas border and immigration has become a much-debated topic with emotions running in high gear on both sides of the issue. Something I experienced first hand left me with mixed feelings about our State, Country, Law Enforcement and most importantly, our culture.

Crisscrossing the valley I was struck with the presence of many INS checkpoints and vehicles on patrol. Initially my reaction was wow the INS seems to be everywhere, but at times it felt unnerving. At 58 I can still be a little naïve about these things but a slight sense of paranoia began to creep into my mind, after all weren’t we in the US?

Although some would argue, this is a small price to pay for security near our border with Mexico, the imagery of Green uniforms and side arms does begin to affect you. I'm used to seeing police and DPS on a routine basis. Frankly, with the exception of the DPS, (sorry) I actually feel a sense of security and stability, but the whole valley thing just creeped me out.

I began to wonder how Elizabeth felt? Although she was born in Mexico, she is now a US citizen. We were pressed for time on the project and still wanted to investigate several crossing sites. Elizabeth quickly picked up her keys, a cell phone and a light jacket, as we headed for a site just a few hundred yards away from the Rio Grande. Access to the road was blocked so we turned around and went to our second destination. Just down the road the INS had set up a mobile checkpoint and in her haste Elizabeth forgot to bring her wallet and drivers license. She apologized for what might be a problem if the INS decided to press her hard for not having any ID. Luckily after some polite discussion about who we were and what we were up to, they passed us along. No big deal, right?

No, not really because the reality of the situation is, you are constantly surrounded by units of the INS, whether they are manning a checkpoint, or just going to the local convenience store for a soda. With all due respect, it's not a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing green and white vehicles day and night. I can only imagine how third and fourth generation Hispanics feel when waiting at a checkpoint to declare that "yes" I'm a US citizen, over and over again.

Is this something that you simply accept as part of life along the border or are there deeper implications? On occasion the VPD sets up checkpoints for verifying auto insurance. Is this any different? Even though I usually have my current proof of insurance, as well as 2-3 outdated cards, I still can't help feeling uneasy, just like when you automatically stomp on the brakes whenever you see a parked police car.

My gut reaction is that the situation is only going to get worse in light of the recent cartel actions. Next, the National Guard will be joining the border patrol and incursions from Mexico into the US will only increase with escalating violence.

As for me I can only pray that God have mercy on all of us.