Texas Tech Expert Can Discuss History of Texas-Mexico Border

Talk of fencing, more patrols, terror threats and federal government interference is not new for this area.

The talk of fencing off the Texas-Mexico border, supplying it with more patrols, fear concerning possible terror threats and federal government interference is not a new story for this area, said Miguel A. Levario, an assistant professor of history at Texas Tech and U.S.-Mexico border history expert.
A federal judge ordered on Tuesday (Jan. 29) that 10 Cameron County property owners must allow the government to survey their land for a Texas-Mexico border fence. However, the government can’t take land without a hearing.
Go back a hundred years, Levario says, and the same "build-a-fence" solution, the same land-ownership issues, the same undocumented immigrant concerns and terrorism threats and the same lack of funds and manpower problems came up in frightening similarity during the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
"I hate to say it, but this is old news and nothing new," the El Paso native said. "In the early part of the 20th century, during the Mexican Revolution you had both the state and federal government using ranchers’ lands to set up camps for law enforcement and even house prisoners."
The only difference, he says, is that the government leased land from ranchers to house patrolling officers and prisoners. Today, the Department of Homeland Security wants to take ranchers’ lands through eminent domain, and several long-standing ranchers aren’t giving up their lands without a fight.
Building a border fence could cause economic turmoil for the area, however, as making day-to-day movement across the border more difficult could put a crimp in the commerce that areas such as El Paso and Ciudad de Juarez have experienced for generations.
"A fence and needing passports to cross the border is going to disrupt the daily lives of the people on the border," Levario said. "It’s a far more complex issue than what Washington or Austin can realize. People go across the border for commerce like other people cross the street. Cities like Eagle Pass or El Paso are codependent communities with their border counterparts in Mexico."

CONTACT: Miguel A. Levario, assistant professor of history, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-1004 ext. 263, miguel.levario@ttu.edu.