Texas Border Tour

February 10-17, 2013

By CIS September 2012

February 10-17, 2013

The Center’s next border tour will focus on the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. The Rio Grande separates Texas and Mexico across a stretch of more than 1,200 miles that is rich in history and intrigue. The natural boundary makes up almost two-thirds of the southwest border and has the most ports of entry, as well as millions of illegal crossings. Just across the river, cartels operate human and drug smuggling routes and exert increasing control over Mexican institutions. Places like Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo are notorious for border-related violence. (Our tour will stick to the U.S. side of the border.)

It is because of the region’s importance to the immigration debate that the Center is planning the tour so participants can see the area firsthand. The trip would be led by Jerry Kammer, our Senior Research Fellow who has organized previous border tours of Arizona and has spent more than 30 years writing on the Southwest. It would provide invaluable insight into efforts to combat illegal immigration and transnational gangs in a region with a different geography than the border areas to the west. During the tour we will see several areas of the border while meeting with ranchers, journalists, law enforcement officials, Border Patrol, and consular officials.

We will also learn about the history of immigration -- both legal and illegal -- in the Rio Grande Valley, much of which is tied to the area’s vast agricultural industry. For instance, we will visit the area near McAllen where CIS board member Vernon Briggs attempted to help Cesar Chavez organize farm workers, only to be thwarted by the illegal importation of strikebreakers from Mexico.

We will visit the river town of Roma, where Jerry Kammer wrote an article, which was read at a Senate hearing, on illegal immigrants from Brazil who crossed the Rio Grande in rafts and immediately sought out the Border Patrol. They knew that because of a shortage of detention facilities they would not be deported. Instead they were released with “a notice to appear” at a future court hearing. The notice was dubbed “an order to disappear” among frustrated Border Patrol agents.

Although still in the initial planning stages, we will fly in and out of San Antonio. Participants would make their own flight arrangements, while the Center would provide all ground transportation, lodging, meals, and excursions for a flat packaged price.

If you are interested in accompanying us, contact John Wahala at jaw@cis.org to get more details.