The game of catch that puts a much-needed spin on the U.S.-Mexico border narrative
With more than 30,000 views since its upload, this video recorded in Juárez shows the barely seen and more human side of the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.
In fiction, we don't like extreme characters. Those who are totally bad or too good. We don't find them credible because we understand that human beings are complex and there are numerous nuances between black and white.
However, in our daily life, there is another type of divisive and propaganda-laden narrative that leads us to turn people into the characters we detest in fiction.
Our vision of the world is shortened when we think in terms of good and bad, especially in situations that are thorny and touch Latinos like immigration policy.
Last Sept. 12, a video exploded on social media and even made it to the local American press, provoking waves of astonishment and even emotion.
In the video, recorded by David Bernal, a neighboring Mexican boy from Juarez was seen playing with a ball at Turtle Park in Colonia Altavista, when suddenly a border patrol stopped his car on the other side of the Rio Grande in the United States. This is what happened next:
The ICE agent, whose name has not been divulged, stopped on the other side of the border and asked the Mexican boy to pass him the ball. They were playing around for about five minutes and then the agent left.
"When I saw that, I thought it was amazing that an immigration agent would come so close just to play at the border with a kid from Juarez," Bernal told the El Paso Times.
For the 19-year-old Juarez native, it is common to see ICE vehicles patrolling the border with the neighboring country day after day, but he found it odd that an agent would come so close to the Mexican side.
According to CBP public affairs officer Valeria Morales, the unknown agent has a practice of asking the kids to pass him the ball. He likes this kind of interaction with people.
"We are from this region and we stay involved with the community," Morales said. "Our officers are coaches or have children, so they want to stay involved and continue our mission which is to protect the border."
The video's owner wasn't the only one impressed by the simple, yet unusual interaction from one country to another. Many other people also gathered to watch this cross-border game between those everyone assumes should be rivals.
Since its publication the video has reached more than 30,000 views and has been shared in numerous accounts, eliciting all sorts of positive comments about the meeting.
"I just thought it was really cool," said Bernal, surprised by the effect it has had on social media.
Indeed, it was.
It has been almost eight months since President Trump ordered travel restrictions between the United States and Mexico because of the spread of COVID-19, limiting citizen crossings to only "essential" visits.
Many families are more divided than before, and uncertainty overwhelms them every time one of their loved ones must cross from El Paso to Juarez for urgent reasons, such as caring for a loved one or attending work or school, because they fear the bridges will be closed overnight and they will be trapped on one side.
They must also, at times, spend more than eight hours behind the wheel on a route that usually lasts 40 minutes, with long caravans of cars and an immigration policy that changes without warning and can cause them many problems.
Although car traffic crossing from one side to the other decreased during the toughest months of COVID-19, many believe that El Paso and Juarez are so closely linked that binational measures should be taken.
As much as it suits the harshest wing of conservatism to push the boundaries of both its discourse and its own life, there are still bridges. Another type of them, formed by people who have a catch.