STORIES: This is comics ethnography. Spending time in a place, interviewing the people I meet. Drawing and writing these stories in comics form. Talking to folks in breakfast joints, and thrift stores, and missions and hearing the stories of peoples' lives which lend context and history to the news. I traveled to Tornillo, TX. where the Trump administration had set up the first of what are now numerous long-term detention camps for children in the United States. Meeting the people in Tornillo and Fabens expanded my understanding of what is happening at the border and in our own country in divided times.
This map of roads in the El Paso Valley indicates important through lines for the industry, history and my own travels in the El Paso Lower Valley. Alameda Street, (in green) was once the main drag through a rich agricultural zone. The small towns Alameda runs through-- Soccorro, Clint, Fabens and Tornillo are recalled by long-time residents as thriving-- with bowling alleys and movie theaters. In the early 1960's, I-10 (in yellow) replaced Alameda, promising greater economic growth but in in reality serving to bypass these small towns. Fabens is the first town before the Port of Tornillo and was once home to its own small border crossing, since 2012 closed to public traffic. Tornillo, is a tiny town with a population of only a couple of thousand. It is important to note that although the detention camp was technically in Tornillo, the town had no say whatsoever in the creation, maintenance or policies of the camp at the port of Tornillo-- located at the Port of Guadelupe, the largest land port in the United States. In actuality, the importation of this camp is a larger story of land grabs and imminent domain which led to the creation of a large bridge overpass (in orange) built in 2012. The border, itself, located in the center of the usually dry bed of the Rio Grande river, is (in red) is located on the other side of the metal border fence, also built in the last 20 years.