A small bird rests on a tree along a quiet stretch of the Río Grande in South Texas/Tamaulipas. The border river has a great emotional presence in both the U.S. and Mexican imagination, often leading to the belief that the entire river is a dangerous haven of crime. Although the Río Grande has its human-caused dangers, its cultural and natural history is much, much deeper than what is often presented in the news. Currently much of this quiet riverine forest is in danger of being destroyed by the U.S.’s border wall project. In a coming Nomadic Border photo essay, we will explore some of this rich history at the peaceful riverside Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
A tall shining metallic arch rises above the busy streets and rolling hills of Tijuana, Baja California, giving Mexico’s westernmost city an icon to welcome visitors and to symbolize its modernity. It is called by various names, including the Arco del Milenio (Millennium Arch) or Arco de Tijuana, but officially the arch is known as the Reloj Monumental de Tijuana (Tijuana Monumental Clock). The arch has been controversial since its construction but has also become one of the city’s most important symbols in the 21st Century. 
For many, the U.S.-Mexico border summons images of barrier walls and binational border towns set in arid desert landscapes. However, on January 2, 2019, snow blanketed the international boundary between Nogales, Arizona, USA, and Heroica Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. For a few hours the borderlands were a winter wonderland.
Art is part of the discussion. The border is an issue that art can say a lot about."
Along the U.S-Mexican border various artists, using a variety of art forms, have worked to encourage the general public to reflect on the social problems caused by the border’s existence. Among the most noteworthy issues this art explores are transnational migration as well as the use of government force (such as the U.S. Border Patrol) to build up the border. The work of Nogales, Sonora, artists Alberto Morackis and Guadalupe Serrano bears witness to how public art can contribute to a greater awareness of the border’s social problems.
Each year Mexican people celebrate the 16th of September in commemoration of the 1810 start of what became the Mexican independence movement. The colorful patriotic festival is celebrated not only within Mexican national boundaries, but also on the other side of its northern border wherever great concentrations of Mexican communities are found. In Los Angeles, California the demographic and cultural strength of the Mexican community – the second largest in the world after Mexico City – makes celebrating the annual “fiestas patrias” an indispensable local tradition. A colorful ceramic mural located in the historic heart of L.A. titled El Grito (“The Cry”) celebrates Mexico’s independence and as well as the heritage of the city’s vibrant Mexican American community.
The Battle of Ambos Nogales Centennial and the Forgotten, Painful Origins of the U.S.-Mexico Border Fences
A version of this photo essay appeared as an article in the August 24, 2018, edition of the Nogales International; special thanks to editor Jonathan Clark for allowing me to contribute to the local paper's coverage of the battle's centennial
A century ago on Aug. 27, 1918, Mexicans and Americans fought one another at the Battle of Ambos Nogales, leaving as many as 129 Mexicans and four Americans dead, and approximately 330 wounded.
There was another toll as well: the previously open border between Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Sonora.
As a result of the battle, the two Nogaleses became the first cities on the U.S.-Mexico border to be divided by permanent border fences.
Nestled in a hot, rocky mountain area, Tecate, Baja California, Mexico and Tecate, California, USA, mark one of the meeting points between Mexican and U.S. California. Located 30 miles east of the San Diego-Tijuana zone, the two Tecates are often an alternative for travelers seeking to wait less time crossing the border. We will explore the two Tecates soon, but the dry shrubbery and rocky environment here shows the character of a slightly less-visited portion of the U.S.-Mexican border zone.
We have explored the Gateway International Bridge (AKA the “New Bridge”) and the iconic Puerta México into Matamoros and now we will explore the main U.S. port of entry into Brownsville: the Gateway Port of Entry. Situated north of the Gateway Bridge (symbolic for demonstrating the transborder ties between the U.S. and Mexico), the Brownsville Gateway Port of Entry could also be considered symbolic due to its long history. If the Puerta México welcomes us to northeastern Mexico, is the Gateway Port of Entry similarly welcoming into South Texas?
This vehicular and pedestrian crossing along the Gateway Bridge is the busiest border crossing between the sister communities of Brownsville and Matamoros. The international border is seen in the center of the image (note how the sidewalk surface changes, marking the dividing point between Mexico and the U.S.)
The Gateway International Bridge/Puente Internacional Matamoros (o more affectionately, the “puente nuevo”) is a symbolic and literal tie between Mexico and the United States through the border communities of Matamoros, Tamaulipas and Brownsville, Texas. In addition to appreciating the bridge’s function and symbolic value it is worth taking into consideration the sets of buildings on opposite ends of this Rio Grande border crossing, particularly in the southbound direction towards Matamoros. Just a few steps in Mexico at the foot of the bridge is one of the great architectural public buildings on Mexico’s northern border – the Puerta México or Mexico Gateway. Like the Gateway Bridge, the Puerta México has deep and tremendous historic value and symbolism.
Situated just 25 miles (40km) from the mouth of the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte) on the Gulf of Mexico, the binational cities of Matamoros and Brownsville anchor the extreme east of the Mexico-U.S. international border. Brownsville – on the southernmost tip of Texas – and Matamoros – itself near the extreme northeast point of Mexico in the state of Tamaulipas – form a classic example of a cross-border sister city community, although in recent years the rise of narco violence on the Mexican side and the U.S. government’s desires to build more border walls in this area have gotten more attention than the rich bicultural histories of these cities. Today we will better appreciate some of this historical heritage by exploring a common, but extremely significant symbol in the Mexico-Texas border region: the symbol of the international bridge. In crossing the Gateway International Bridge (or Puente Nuevo/New Bridge) between Matamoros and Brownsville we will dust off the cob webs of another chapter in the cross-border history of Mexico and the United States.
U.S.-Mexican, Latino, and Border Historian