On Leaving El Paso


There are checkpoints in every direction when leaving the El Paso region. A series of cameras photograph your car, your license plates, and the people in your car. You are asked to stop and allow a German Shepard to sniff around your car as if it is the ass of another dog. An armed guard asks for your credentials. If you can say American without an accent, you can go. If the guard suspects that you are not American, or that you are transporting someone or something, then the guard has the right to detain you, search your car, and ask for physical proof of your legal right to be in America. 

You can claim the checkpoints do not bother you, but the ritual at every checkpoint is the same: the radio gets turned downed, backs straighten up, and non-citizens pull out their paperwork. The idea of passing an armed guard inspection is embedded in the psyche of all peoples living and leaving the El Paso region. It is like a sharp pebble between your shoe and your foot, it won’t stop you, but it stings a little. 

You may fool yourself into believing that these check points serve a purpose, that they keep Illegal Immigrants from invading, or that they prevent drugs from reaching suburban neighborhoods, but the truth is that these checkpoints are put in place out of a fear that America is changing, and that people who have been disenfranchised and segregated by the acquisition of the south will one day realize that this has always been home.
Carlos Fidel Espinoza