Growing up on the border, I crossed the bridges between the Eagle Pass, Tx, and Piedras Negras, Coah. probably over 1,500 times. (twice a day for every day of school). My grandpa was even immigration chief for my Mexican home district.
Despite this, I had very rarely seen an trouble with the system, that is to say I had only seen the border shut down once in my life and I don’t really remember it. It was during 9/11. Despite my many border crossings, about 99% of them have been through a legal port of entry where each country agreed to set up formal customs and immigration authorities. (1% swimming in the Rio Grande, sometime even with friends whose parents are US border patrol). When we saw the San Gabriel gate my reaction was originally to be freaked out. What the hell is a gate doing that is unguarded from one side?
Hot take- when I heard about the man who owned the property and had actually welded the gate shut to prevent the movement through it, I thought I would have done the same if this were the case on our ranch on the border. I would not have tried to sell them the ranch through, I just don’t want my home to serve as a hub for illegal crossings.
Did anyone ask him what he thought of having an unofficial border crossing on his property, especially one under the turf of the Sinaloa Cartel? (El Chapo’s people) I would be scared shitless. My ranch is one of the two places where people can cross the usually 100 ft. wide and strong currented Rio Grande on foot and we have the same problem, but with the Los Zetas Cartel.
While the Tohno are right in saying this was their land first, I find the argument of their right to free and unrestricted movement to Mexico absurd as a Mexican citizen claiming they have a right to move to Houston or San Antonio. (Both previously Mexican territory). The land was conquered and they should have no claim to it in Mexico and therefore no unrestricted access to an actual sovereign country. Mexico for this reason does not recognize the sovereignty of indigenous lands.
We also have to take into consideration the sad fact that the living conditions of the Tohono coupled with their American recognized status have made them prime targets to be recruited as human and drug smugglers. I have met some back home in Texas- can you really blame anyone for not wanting that in your backyard?
I do not think that closing the gate was a solution, or even an attempt at one, but rather an unfortunate side effect of a broken immigration system and a bi-national failure on the war on drugs, with the Tohono caught in the middle. It wasn’t their fault, it wasn’t the rancher’s fault. Everyone acted rationally, can you really blame anyone for that?