“Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is that to go on living I have to tell stories, that stories are the one sure way I know to touch the heart and change the world.”
— Dorothy Allison, American writer, speaker and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers
As we stood along the harsh fence along the border, we learned about a boy who was shot and killed right by the border. Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was a 16-year-old boy who was on the Mexican side of the border when a border patrol agent shot him in the head and killed him, then shot him 9 more times in the back as he lay dead on the street. His pistol’s magazine would have been less than 10 rounds- meaning while he was killing Antonio he must have reloaded at some point. He claimed that Jose had been throwing rocks at him and he felt threatened for his life. We saw where Jose’s body was found and it was too far from the fence for that story to be true. Also, the Border Patrol agent could have just retreated to his armored vehicle where he would have been safe even if he was in danger in the first place, but he decided to shoot instead. But the border patrol agent was found not guilty in criminal and civil charges. On the top of the fence, there are cameras that capture footage of any movement happening along the border and we saw those cameras today. We saw the live footage from the cameras sitting on top of the fence when we visited the radio room at the Nogales Border Patrol Station. But apparently, the cameras weren’t working on that day Jose was shot. No footage could be found and therefore, another injustice was ignored. Most of us in the group had never heard that story before today. This is a story that everyone should know. We also went to migrant shelters and listened to people’s stories and why they fled their home countries. A young lady from Nicaragua told her story of how she protested against their corrupt government, who sent armed military and police and tried to kill these peaceful protesters. Since she was a protester, she described how she feared for her life from the violence back home. She told us how no one wants to leave their homes- but they are forced to when faced with danger to themselves or their family and want them to be safe. This is so important because there is so much misinformation about the people attempting to cross the border when the vast majority of them just want a better, safer life, when many people make them out to all be drug traffickers, gang members, among other terrible things. In conclusion, it is the telling and listening to these stories that allows us to form human connections which will help make our world safer for as many people as possible.