Dec 1, 2015

Faces from the Border: Choosing Friends

New Yorker: Today, about half of the guardians of the border—U.S. Border Patrol agents—are Hispanic, and many have roots in both countries. Consider agent Yesenia León, aged thirty-three. She was born in a small town in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua and came across the border legally when she was four thanks to her father, a U.S. citizen. León, the youngest of six children, was raised in El Paso.

She graduated from Bowie High School, which back then, she says, was known as “La Bowie” because the south-central school had a reputation for its cholos, or gang members. It was also known as the place that had, through a 1992 federal lawsuit, changed the way the agents operated in border cities. The Border Patrol agency routinely stopped and questioned Hispanics near the high school, located just a few feet from the border. The lawsuit brought by Bowie students and staff successfully made a case against racial profiling that has had a major impact on Border Patrol procedures throughout the Southwest. Read more.

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