This is not the first time the situation at our border has been referred to as a “border war.” A newspaper article was published in The Nation on November 12, 1990 entitled “The Mexican Border War” written by Miriam Davidson. It discusses the intolerance of Mexican immigrants in America, especially near the border. Also, a documentary called “Border War: The Battle over Illegal Immigration,” written and directed by Kevin Knoblock was released in 2006. This documentary follows five individuals involved with illegal immigration and the border. Grant it, these titles are eye-catching and interesting, but the question of whether or not this situation is actually a war, in the universal sense of the word, is still questionable.
The trailer for the series “Border Wars” depicts the jobs of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and officers working at the border between the United States and Mexico. The Americans in the trailer are depicted as heroic and brave—riding helicopters, carrying guns, using medical equipment, catching criminals, and basically keeping the peace—while almost every non-American is wearing handcuffs, handling drugs, or being searched by American officers. The trailer does not give viewers a chance to judge for themselves. It breeds hate against the Mexicans, portraying them as criminals and blaming them for the “border war” that is supposedly happening. However, criminals make up only seventeen percent of immigrants crossing the border, according to the article, “No ‘Typical Days for Border Patrol” by Heather Trujillo. This is not what the trailer for “Border Wars” shows. The trailer ignores the eighty-three percent of the non-criminal Mexicans that cross our border simply looking for a better life, but those people are necessary if the show is going to be an accurate depiction of the situation at our border and of the Mexicans themselves.
Images of guns, weapons, and handcuffs are frequent in the montage of clips. This trailer illustrates a war-like situation, reflecting the series title, “Border Wars,” but does it reflect what is actually happening there? People are dying. Violence is a constant concern. Drug and human trafficking is occurring. The question is: do these things alone qualify the situation as war?
The majority of lives of Mexicans crossing the border are claimed by the desert heat and treacherous journey into America. In fact, an article by Sanjeeb Sapkota and others entitled “Unauthorized Border Crossings and Migrant Deaths” states that in a semi-recent study, environmental heat exposure was the leading cause of death, accounting for 61.1% of immigrant deaths with the next highest being only 8.1%, which was vehicle crashes. The gun-wielding agents with the advanced technology from the “Border Wars” trailer are not hunting down and killing illegal immigrants like some kind of action movie as implied by the video. The real defender, the major deterrence of illegal immigrants, is the barren wasteland they must cross to come to America.
The United States / Mexico border conflict is not without other casualties, however, and the jobs of the border patrol agents are by no means un-heroic. Reports of agents being murdered are numerous.