What is the line?
TheLine is a project which tells stories about the border, immigration and beyond through comics journalism and visual essay.
This is the post which started it all. O.K., I'd just like to say that Facebook posts can sometimes be over the top. But all this anti-immigration stuff just sticks in my throat. My dad is an immigrant and a political refugee from Argentina. Of my immediate family, my Abuelita was an immigrant to Argentina from Wales when she was a baby. My Grosfati was an immigrant to Argentina from Germany in 1929, my Grandma on my mom's side was born and raised in China. My family is more defined by the immigrant experience than any national identity. On top of this, did I mention German? The picture in my head of a nation which builds camps for people who are different is not somewhere I want to live. I know many people in El Paso feel the same way while others feel afraid and like they need the safety of border walls and agents, and yes, even camps. I have a point of view, but I'd like to hear from everybody.
I am telling stories about borders and immigration.
Reasons I am going to El Paso. This summer we were all inundated with media about "a crisis on the border" (it's a little more accurate to say the crisis is in Washington. Separating children from parents? Has everyone gone crazy?) I read horrifying Facebook stories about crying children ripped from parents -- it was terrible on its face. These stories also narrowed complex people and communities into one dimensional tragedies. This also unnerved me and I wanted to do more than complain.
1. I wanted to witness. Its a religious idea, I know. To tell the story that you've seen in the flesh-- reality is different one step removed and we live in a time when people don't believe what they read. On some level I am still having trouble with the idea that our country is putting kids in camps for running for their lives. But, I've seen the camps. I'm a witness. Sometimes it is as simple as that, too.
2. I wanted a slower story. I thought maybe I could draw that story myself. Drawing stuff takes some time. Drawing slows stuff down. The way I draw can't be done without looking at people and spending some time with them. So, I went to the border-- enough time to meet people and eat breakfast at 'Good Coffee'. This is the story of these trips, the border as written and drawn by a stranger who found a city which felt familiar and kind and homey. I went there as a witness to the ways my country is refusing to be a home but choosing to be a prison.
This project is called 'the line' for a few reasons. First a border is a line, an arbitrary line-- I won't call it meaningless, because the border is what nations are built around-- symbols of history and violence and place. Nonetheless, they are just imaginary. Next, for me, this country's zero-tolerance policy crosses an ethical line. One which is morally reprehensible and for which we are all responsible. Finally, I write and draw, each activities which are entirely dependent upon the simple, relatively random act of drawing a line.