Beginning in 2001 Women on the Border often collaborated with Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera and the Comite Fronterizo de Obreras (Piedras Negras/Eagle Pass) to produce weekend educational trips where delegates could meet and talk to activist workers in the maquiladoras.
Below are reflective writings by people who went on a border delegation. Often delegates say they had a life-transforming educational experience. The voices of the workers bring to life the negative realities ofen surrounding free trade agreements.
REFLECTIONS FROM DELEGATIONS
I participated in the Austin Tan Cerca de La Frontera delegation to Piedras Negras, Allende and Nava, MX this past May. I also photographed the trip for ATCF, for their own organizational uses, as well as for my practice as a photographer and to be able to make images which show people some of what it is like to live as a worker in the maquiladoras in the US-Mexico border region…Continue reading
Pamela Broukerm Fall 2010 (Reynosa): “My name is Pamela Marie Brouker. I enjoy poetry, nature, art, film and travel. . . I am an ordained Lutheran minister and certified special education teacher. I was in Mexico, Reynosa, when the time changed. . . Read more.
Cynthia N. Edwards, 2006 “Life at the Border” from 2006 delegation to Reynosa, Tamaulipas. “In October I participated in a delegation to the U.S.-Mexico border. As part of the 12 person delegation, which was partly organized by an NIU-COL professor I traveled to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, a town on the U.S.-Mexico border that is next to McAllen, Texas. The group was comprised of …” Read more.
Yvonne Lapp Cryns, 2005 Delegation to Piedras Negras in 2005 “Have you ever given any thought to who sews the pants and shirts you wear? Who makes your Nike shoes? Who put the electrical system together for your car? Five NIU College of Law students had the opportunity to travel to Mexico and meet some of the people who work in factories that make those consumer goods and learn about the effects of globalization on these people who live so close to our U.S. border…” Read more.
Judith “Hoodeet” Rosenberg’s following the delegation to Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Oct. 12-14, 2001. “Dear All, This is a personal report of the recent delegation to the border, which in many ways was a satisfying and successful trip because of the strength of the Austin delegates and because the CFO managed their part pretty much without … Read more.
Christina Murray, Spring 2006 Photographer & Delegation Leader, Fall 2006
“Dear friends and family, So I have been wanting to write for days now, but there is never enough time. As many of you know, but not all, I’m here on the Mexican side of the Texas/ Mexico border, in Piedras Negras, sister city to Eagle Pass. . . I sleep in a maquiladora, which, by definition, is a processing plant…” Read more.
REFLECTIONS FROM JOURNEY OF AN IMMIGRANT DELEGATIONS
How WOB and ATCF produced the delegations:
Around 2011-12 WOB and ATCF worked together to produce a different kind of delegation. On many delegations to meet maquila workers the topic of an increasingly militarized border had come up in conversations with workers, some of whom had families on the U.S. side or some of whom had migrated from the southern regions of Mexico.
It was becoming clear that NAFTA had primarily become a boon for business. But for migrants and workers it had brought unsafe working conditions and nonliving wages.
In the U.S. an anti-immigrant movement was underway. Employers and landlords were being threatened with fines and jail if they rented to or hired undocumented workers. The immigrant, especially if a person of color, was presumed to be illegal. Calls to increase border security were a regular part of political discourse. And detention centers were becoming big business for corporations.
As a response to the growing hate based messages about “illegal aliens” WOB and ATCF organizers fashioned a delegation experience aimed at hearing the voices from migrants who had recently crossed the border.
The 3 day program took delegates to migrant shelters, to a visit with community organizers in the colonias, to a meeting with immigration lawyers, and to a tour of the border wall with a Sierra Club volunteer who shared information on how the border walls hurt humans and wildlife.
In 2012 the Journey of Immigrant Delegation toured the detention center at Port Isabel . In 2014 they obtained access to the Pearsall facility and personally met about 60 detainees, most of whom were asylum seekers from Central America.
Click here to see Description and Announcement of 2012 Journey of an Immigrant Delegation
Delegates reflect on their Journey of Immigrant Delegation (2012 and 2014)