A couple of weekends ago I took my girls out to west Texas. I picked them up from school on Friday and headed west on I-10 out to Fort Stockton. We stayed there overnight before making our ascent into the Davis Mountains on Saturday morning. We visited the fort, we hiked and we went to a star party at the McDonald Observatory. It was a great little adventure for us to share.
On Sunday morning we made our way back toward San Antonio via U.S-90. The highway takes a more southerly route that hugs the Rio Grande for about ninety miles between Dryden and Del Rio. For much of that time it's possible to look across the rugged Chihuahuan Desert landscape, over the Rio Grande valley and into Mexico. In Langtry there's even a state-run Visitor's Center and you can walk a short trail down to the border itself.
Over 12,000 miles of America's 19,000 mile border with Mexico is between Mexico and Texas. Most of this area is sparsely populated (El Paso, Laredo and the Lower Rio Grande Valley being notable exceptions) and although the Rio Grande acts as a physical demarcation, it isn't much of a physical barrier. The line on the map is often invisible here. There are no walls here nor are there fences.
Nor do there need to be.
Here the desert itself acts as a barrier and even so the US Border Patrol maintains a strong presence. The idea is that even if the border itself might porous, the ways out of it are not. In addition to a series of constitutionally questionable interior checkpoints, Border Patrol agents are constantly patrolling the area. We probably passed twenty of their vehicles on our drive.
More importantly, there are no marauding bands of illegals. There are no murders. There are no rapists. In all my trips along the border, I have never seen the "illegals" that are supposedly pouring across the border. I'm not saying they don't exist, but the fact is the system implemented over the last several decades works well and the increase in security there after 9-11 has been a economic boon to the region.
I know that there is a narrative that exists that the border is a lawless place that is unsafe. That is not true in my experience. I've found the border to be a place of rugged beauty; a place teeming with wildlife; a place where I would happily take my daughters.