A Labor Spring for Mexico’s Maquilas?

In Matamoros, wildcat strikes propelled by AMLO’s election and social media were victorious in improving conditions for 30,000 maquiladora workers. Will it mark a new era for union organizing in Mexico?

Since the 20/32 movement started in mid-January, tens of thousands of workers in Matamoros have walked off work, initially as part of wildcat strikes that lacked union support. Most of the workers are paid around a dollar an hour in a border region with the one of the highest costs of living in Mexico.

In South Texas, Border Wall Construction Imminent

Trump Administration targets Rio Grande Valley for new wall.

In the past week, heavy machinery has rolled into Texas’s Rio Grande Valley as the Trump administration looks to push construction on a new section of border wall—a project that threatens protected natural areas, including a butterfly sanctuary and a state park. The development comes amidst the intensifying militarization of the entire border region, with US troops deploying lethal razor wire in Arizona.

Signs and Blunders

In 1918, a state-sanctioned vigilante force killed 15 unarmed Mexicans in Porvenir. When their descendants applied for a historical marker a century later, they learned that not everyone wants to remember one of Texas’ darkest days.

The Porvenir massacre controversy is about more than just the fate of a single marker destined for a lonely part of West Texas. It’s about who gets to tell history, and the continuing relevance of the border’s contested, violent and racist past to events today.

Raspa Revolution

A Rio Grande Valley tradition evolves for the social media age — with a few growing pains.

The tweet that went viral was a photo of their Drake-inspired “Views” raspa, held out by a faceless model like a bouquet of flowers. When Vasquez and Segura arrived the next day, 40 cars were already in line. It got only longer from there. As wait times grew to four hours, rumors started that Ice Cube himself was at the stand signing autographs. Customers watched Netflix and danced on the roofs of their trucks; the police were called four or five times a night to sort out traffic; cars running out of gas while idling became so routine that they started keeping a full gas can behind the stand.

U.S. Catholic Bishops to Minister to Children in Border Detention Centers


“The bishops are visiting here with us to understand better what an immigrant lives—a mother, a child, a family. And then to respond,” said Bishop Daniel Flores, of the local Brownsville diocese, which adjoins the Mexican border. “As a church, we have to be the ones who say ‘there’s always a human face, and the human face always points to Christ in whatever suffering there is.’ If we don’t stand up and say this, who is going say it?”

Rural Reinvention

A journey across America’s heartland to find the future of small towns

We had long joked about a quasi-mythical Town X, some forward-looking, diverse community within easy driving distance of our parents. Both of us liked the idea (in theory) of living in a small town—but we also couldn’t imagine living in the same homogenous small towns we grew up in. After more than fifteen years away, we had ample worries: Where would we work? Would we fit in? What might our kids experience in school?

Riding the Tornado

Documenting migrant workers’ cross-country journey.

My bus in Houston was more than three hours late when, in quick succession, eight buses appeared in single file all at once, electronic signs above the windshields flashing the names of the routes’ final destinations: PLANT CITY, FLORIDA; NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE; WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA. In choreographed harmony, the buses turned into their designated lanes. Bags were loaded, and passengers climbed on board. “Bienvenidos, damas y caballeros,” the redheaded bus driver intoned, welcoming us as he pulled swiftly out of the berth. Looking back in the direction of an enormous neon TORNADO sign, I saw that the entire station below it was empty, save the silver-haired woman in her blue company shirt, waving goodbye. Once the buses arrived, the whole maneuver took less than fifteen minutes, and every one of the hundreds of passengers waiting there had disappeared.

Forget FEMA Trailers: How to House People in a Hurry

Yes! / JUNE 4, 2018
“We don’t need to wait for a hurricane to hit. We can get started with the recovery right now.”

When Hurricane Dolly hit Brownsville, Texas, in 2008, Esperanza Avalos was at the home she shared with her daughter, three grandchildren, and her dying husband. Like most homeowners in the rural Luz del Cielo colonia, less than a half-mile from the U.S.-Mexico border, the Avaloses had built the house themselves, adding new bedrooms to accommodate their multigenerational family as money allowed.

Swan Song

You won’t find it on a highway map, but a 250-year-old village on the Rio Grande is internationally famous among birders. Will it survive Trump’s wall?

The Salineño Preserve is one of many wildlife sanctuaries — including better-known destinations like the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the National Butterfly Center and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park — at grave risk if Trump’s wall is built as planned. The preserve’s tiny size and its location sandwiched between the river and the village mean that it could literally be wiped out. If the wall is built, it would at the very least cut off access to the riverside preserve. Potentially, it could be bulldozed entirely as part of a planned 150-foot enforcement zone.

The Day Shift

Adult day cares in the Rio Grande Valley are a cultural phenomenon. What can they teach us about health and wellness in an aging world?

Adult day cares like those in the Valley can offer a kind of middle way between round-the-clock care by family caregivers — who frequently burn out and experience physical and mental problems themselves — and expensive, sometimes impersonal nursing home care. As more seniors opt to “age in place” by living at home longer, such facilities are growing in number outside the Valley as well. Nationally, the number of adult day care participants has increased 63 percent since 2002, even as nursing home occupancy has flatlined. If this trend continues, the Valley today may offer a glimpse at what health care for older Americans will look like in the future.