Last updated on August 14, 2019
Members of a small West Texas town take trips across the border for necessities that aren’t available to them where they live.
According to an NPR article, members of the border town of Candelaria have crossed for generations into Mexico in order to obtain basic needs such as health care, rarely using an official entry port when they come back. Citizens travel across the rope above the Rio Grande River to a clinic in San Antonio del Bravo, where the medical treatment you receive is paid by the Mexican government, even if you are a United States citizen. The article stated that traveling to the closest hospital to Candelaria in Texas would take far more time than the walk to San Antonio del Bravo.
“A 10-minute walk,” Loraine Tellez, a Candelaria resident said in an NPR article, “versus three hours to the hospital.”
Traveling across the border for treatments is something that other Americans participate in. A Newsweek article stated that 800,000 to 1 million US citizens travel to Mexico for cheaper treatment a year. The CEO of Patients without Borders, Joseph Woodman, calculated that a treatment plan would cost $15,900 in the US while only costing $4,010 in Mexico.
“I saved about $10,000,” Woodman said in the Newsweek article, “and that is not unusual. You can save a lot of money.”
According to NPR, the Border Patrol agent in charge of the region (Candelaria and three accompanying river towns), Mike Shelton, stated that agents are taught to question if what they do will benefit the government and society, to judge on a case by case basis. Shelton stated that just because they have the authority to act doesn’t mean that they must.
Just because we can take enforcement action, doesn’t necessarily mean we should. We don’t want agents to put people’s lives at risk simply because the agents are blindly following the letter of the law.
In the NPR article, citizens stated that they inform Border Patrol agents when they spot an unfamiliar face when they are crossing, as the route is also used for human and drug trafficking. Tellez feels remorse for crossing illegally but stated that it’s a necessity at times.
“Down deep in my heart it does make me feel guilty,” Tellez said, “but I have to do it sometimes.”
Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not reflect the stance TheWorker Tribune takes on this issue. TheWorker Tribune seeks to include as many perspectives possible regarding even the most controversial subject matters.