The Christian Science Monitor Weekly

November 26, 2018

The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 43

He cites his own family as an example. His Mexican grandparents immigrated to New Mexico in 1916 in a covered wagon. Jasso's father and six uncles served in the US military. Jasso himself worked as a fire- fighter for 22 years before being elected mayor in 2014. These are the stories that residents here say America has largely forgotten: the best elements of the country's intertwined his- tory with Mexico. IN RECENT MONTHS, Trump has reworked the North American Free Trade Agreement after repeatedly criticizing trade with Mex - ico. He rallied Republican votes ahead of the midterm elections by painting Demo- crats as proponents of "open borders," and therefore, more crime. In 2016, he carried Luna County by nearly four points, a wider margin than Mitt Romney in 2012. Still, in much of Luna County, "open border" isn't a dirty phrase, but rather a way of life. Many Columbus and Deming residents, for example, visit a dentist in Palomas. Americans who live in Columbus eat dinner in Palomas, as their own town's two main restaurants close before 6 p.m. Philip Skinner, a former mayor of Co- lumbus who now drives the elementary school's bus to and from the border, has his own favorite, Casa Mexicana. He eats at the five-table restaurant with lime green walls off of Palomas's main plaza three or four times a week. The owner, Maritza, expects him, and she cooks Mr. Skinner's favorite: chicken enchiladas with homemade chile and a sugary agua fresca. "I'm a conservative Republican, not a Trump Republican, but I'm a conservative so I see rule of law," he says. "People shouldn't be crossing the border illegally." But then there are the kids who pile into his bus every day, bound for their American classrooms. "I'm not an open border guy. But I can also see the humanitarian side of educating these children." Cross-border education binds together the communities on both sides. If a child gets hurt or has disciplinary issues, Romero often calls Palomas's mayor, who will go knock on the door of families who don't have phones. And whenever Deming Public Schools buys new books or desks, Romero often donates the old supplies to schools in Palomas. For parent-teacher conferences, many Mexican parents can't visit their child's school in person. Deming's teachers used to travel to Palomas for conferences until a decade ago, says Romero, when the district's liability insurance made it cost-prohibitive. Now, Deming Public Schools works with Palomas's government to set up video calls for families at an internet cafe. "They're our partners in this," says Romero. CORONA ADMITS IT was hard waving good - bye to Gabriela almost 11 years ago when she began kindergarten in Columbus. "But we trust them," he says. "We trust the schools." After she graduates from Deming High School next year, Gabriela wants to go to college in Las Cruces, N.M., and become a nurse. But for now, at her pink stucco home in Palomas, where her dog Milo runs freely around the neighborhood, Gabriela thinks of her diploma. It will represent more than a high school degree – it will represent years of early alarm clocks; hours of homework on long, winding bus rides; and all the morn- ings she spent under a black sky in the dirt parking lot at the border. When Corona talks of Gabriela's grad- uation day, he sounds like many fathers in America – proud. "It's going to be amazing, that my daughter can go to college," says Corona. "She can do what I can't. What's impossible for me. It's going to be a big suc- cess for her – and for me." r VFROM PREVIOUS PAGE A mural depicts Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa (r.) and US Gen. John J. Pershing, who fought against Villa in the early 1900s, on a cafe in Columbus, N.M. RODRIGO ABD/AP '[THE STUDENTS] WILL COME ACROSS, BRING THEIR PARENTS, AND ALL BE ON WELFARE.' – Fred Beem, of Deming, N.M. 30 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY | NOVEMBER 26, 2018

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly - November 26, 2018