You've come to an old part of SW Online. We're still moving this and other older stories into our new format. In the meanwhile, click here to go to the current home page.

Day 1: San Diego
Bienvenidos to the border | Papers paranoia | Home Depot despots

Day 2: East to Tucson
The border contradiction | State within a state

Day 3: Nogales and Tucson
Border crossings and border crosses | Last stop on the green line | A desert testimonial

Day 4: Tucson
Death in the desert

Day 5: Tucson and Sasabe
Reclaiming a stolen past | South to Sasabe | The staging ground | History's gateway

Day 6: Douglas
Hunting the hunters

Day 7: El Paso and Ciudad Juarez
The people vs. Samaniego | The heard and unheard cries of Juarez

Day 8: Tijuana and San Diego
Tijuana's toxins | At the edge of America


September 29-October 6, 2006

THE U.S.-Mexico border is more than just a boundary that separates two countries. But what else it represents depends on who you are.


For U.S. politicians, the border represents an intoxicating brew of issues to use for political gain--"illegal aliens," "drug dealers," "a threat to our way of life" and, of course, "terrorists."

For U.S. corporations, the borderlands mean big profits, a zone where non-U.S.-born workers will work for low wages under inhuman conditions.

For the vigilante groups that dot the border states, the rightward lurch in mainstream politics has enabled them to play out their "border war" fantasies on a much larger stage.

For the millions of workers and poor across Central and South America struggling to feed their families, the border represents the hope of a better life en el norte. But crossing it often leads to great expectations giving way to grim realities.

In August, Socialist Worker's JUSTIN AKERS CHACÓN, ERIC RUDER and NOHELIA RAMOS traveled from San Diego/Tijuana to El Paso/Ciudad Juarez and back to speak with activists, experts and migrant workers. Here we publish their day-by-day account of the journey.

What else to read

For an excellent survey of past and present political dynamics on the U.S.-Mexico border, read No One Is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexico Border, by Justin Akers Chacón and Mike Davis. Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the 'Illegal Alien' and the Remaking of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary by Joseph Nevins dissects border policy during the Clinton era and the anti-immigrant sentiment it stirred up.

The Coalición de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths, both Arizona-based human rights organizations active around border issues, have useful Web sites that provide news analysis, statistics and details about their actions and initiatives.

Among the many articles in the International Socialist Review covering the rise of border militarization as well as the eruption of the immigrant rights movement this past spring are "Vigilantes at the border: The new war on immigrants" and "War on immigrants."

There are three recent films on border issues. Crossing Arizona is an excellent documentary through the eyes of those directly affected. It's difficult to find--check the film's Web site for information about upcoming screenings. Maquilapolis is a new film about workers in Tijuana's maquiladoras; its national broadcast premiere is October 10 on PBS's P.O.V. series. Rights on the Line is Ray Ybarra and Tamaryn Nelson's documentary about the growth of the vigilantes operating along the border.

For those interested in border activism, check out the upcoming Border Social Forum in Ciudad Juarez on October 13-15. More information is available at