Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Texico

It seems that more and more in our global, idea-driven, technological economy, cities that are nearby each other are relying on each other more and more not just to grow and help one another's economies, but sometimes to survive.

The NYT on Sunday had an interesting article on the area of El Paso/Juarez, and how it is becoming more and more common for people to have a dual Mexican/United States citizenship and live in one city but commute to the other. The tightening of national security laws, though, in the name of terrorism, are threatening to not only disrupt this way of life that has benefitted so many people (and a whole city), but destroy it.

Even as border security has become a political hot potato, El Paso and Juárez remain very much connected. Just several blocks south from downtown El Paso is the bridge that empties into Avenida Juárez, a main thoroughfare.

The populations have grown in both cities as well, spurred largely by the rising number of international companies that have moved to Juárez to take advantage of the proximity to the American consumer market and cheap Mexican labor.

While Juárez is generally still a poor city, housing options have improved as the Mexican middle class has grown. Where there used to be only cheap or very high-end housing, now there are more American-style subdivisions and gated communities, brokers say, and the prices are comparable to similar homes in El Paso.

Home prices have also remained stable in Juárez. “We have a lot of activity,” said Jesús Otero, a principal owner of Century 21 Otero, referring to home sales. He also noted that demand was especially strong for Mexicans who own businesses in El Paso and live in Juárez.

But for dual citizens like Ms. Giner, which side of the border she lives on is a matter of personal choice. “Crossing the border is a normal part of life for us,” she said. “I want my kids to be bilingual and bicultural. It’s important for me that they know the Mexican holidays and culture, not just the language.” Her daughters Cassandra, 9, and Isabella, 4, go to a private Catholic school in Juárez while her youngest daughter, Sofia, 2, who has a rare genetic disorder, receives special care in El Paso.

It'll be interesting to see how terrorism and more vigilante immigration laws are going to start affecting this stuff, not just on the Texas-United States border, but on the United States-Canadian border as well. I'm not really sure what a proper terrorism response should be, but turning the United States into an isolationist country won't do anybody any favors.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

Ah, Juárez... where I first crossed into Mexico. And then crossed back over to see a Morrissey concert.