May 5, 2009
by Dick Kamp
Mexico and the borderlands are seen in many lights within the United States.
In one light, Mexico is seen as the source of narco-violence, job-stealing migrants during economic decline, and allegedly as a source of swine flu. In the border-region light, Mexicans are neighbors, family, a source of art, culture, music, beautiful landscapes, dust and pollution, great food and cheap local dentists.
For many who live on the U.S. side of the border, Mexico has long been as close as you can come to an ocean that laps along the shore. Border residents in the U.S. find the 700 miles of sometimes impenetrable fence to be a shield from wild narco-bullets in a few areas, but also an intrusion on their lives.
In South Texas, residents who've been on their land since the 1800s demonstrated loudly against former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff in 2007 when he seized their land under the 2005 Real ID Act.
At the Arizona-Sonora border on the San Pedro River, in Arroyo Nogales, and in the Buenos Aires reserve, people and wildlife have been harmed during floods, and private property has been destroyed by new barriers.
Animal species that cannot cross to breed or to live within their native habitat including among many: bighorn sheep, a number of varieties of birds, beaver, jaguar, even the common javelina.
Twenty-seven photographic, environmental, human rights and church groups gathered in Washington, D.C., from April 26-29 to lobby for U.S. Rep.Raul Grijalva's, (D-Ariz.) recently introduced 2009 Border Protection Act as a basis to end the era of monolithic border fences and a more consultative approach to border security.
Grijalva's bill seeks for the end of the waiver of laws and seizure of land by the DHS in the name of fence construction and a new multi-sector technical approach to patrolling and protecting the border from illegal entry.
Behind the groups' lobbying of more than 120 Senate and House committee heads and border congressional representatives is a core of world-renowned photographers who are part of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) who traveled the border photographing lands, people and fence.
The ILCP calls this a “border rave” and spokeswoman-conservation photograher Krysta Schyler said that in addition to the border protection provisions in the Grijalva bill, “We'd like to see Secretary Napolitano agree to never use the waiver and that money is in place to pay for damages already caused by the fence.”
ILCP photographs in this portfolio include natural landscapes and the animals therein, the border fence tearing up land and blocking animals; and some of the best are of people.
No, there are no shots of the Border Patrol chasing smugglers. Added are a couple of surrealistic visions of border detritus taken by writer and reporter Debbie Nathan.
"More information on ILCP "borderland rave" at http://www.ilcp.com/?cid=93"