A woman wades across the Rio Grande into Chihuahua. She’s a US citizen on her way to see family in Mexico living a few hundred yards from the shore. It’s not illegal to exit the US here, only to return the same way. The nearest legal crossing is close to two hours away. (Lorne Matalon)
A version of this story also aired on the Texas Standard, a statewide reporting collaboration led by KUT in Austin Texas and KPBS, San Diego.
CANDELARIA, Texas — The United States and Mexico are pouring money into a showcase experiment to rescue damaged economies on the Texas-Mexico border.
But that experiment only involves two towns, Boquillas in Mexico and the community of visitors and National Park Service personnel at Big Bend National Park, a epic mosaic of desert, rock and sky that already draws hundreds of thousands of adventure travelers every year.
There are dozens of other towns along this section of the border, forgotten, struggling, where residents claim they’re forced in some cases to break the law to survive.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell signs an update to the 1999 U.S.-Mexico Wildfire Protection Agreement with her Mexican counterpart, Juan José Guerra Abud, Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) on her left. (Lorne Matalon)
Story originally published at
A version of this story aired on Texas Standard from KUT Austin.
BOQUILLAS, Coahuila — A border crossing that’s seen as part of a template to rescue damaged, rural economies along the Rio Grande has marked its second anniversary.
The symbolic importance of the crossing that links Big Bend National Park in Texas to Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila, was heralded by a visit from cabinet secretaries from the United States and Mexico. The United States ambassador to Mexico was also on hand.
After 9/11, security concerns translated into enforcement of laws that had rarely been largely overlooked before. That meant the age-old practice of walking across this sinewy slice of the Rio Grande was banned.