By Jesus Daniel Mendez Carbajal
My name is Jesus Daniel Mendez Carbajal. I was born in Guerrero, Mexico, I am 24 years old and I am a DACA recipient. I am one of several Human Rights Organizers with Alliance San Diego, and I decided to join the Caravan Against Fear as it makes its way through the Southern Border of the United States.
I’ve lived in San Diego since 1998 but I have yet to see and get to know the rest of the U.S.-Mexico border region. I’m excited to join the caravan to help defend immigrant rights, keep families together, and build momentum for the May 1 National strike.
I look forward to “learn by doing” through supporting the coordination of some of the visits in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. I’m excited to get to know the rest of the folks on the caravan, hear their stories, their life motivations and build connections.
I’m ready to connect with the land, the weather patterns and different terrains in order to feel what the rest of the border region feels like.
I look forward to learning from the communities we’ll be visiting, learning about the local struggles they face and what we can do to support each other across states.
Through my undergraduate studies in Chicana/o Studies at San Diego State University, I have a better sense of the historical realities along the border. The border as we know it has not always existed in the same way. There was a time when the border was more fluid and open, allowing for more movement --unlike the restrictions and limitations of today. We learned about the ongoing disappearances of women in Juarez, Chihuahua and the larger border region, which has been happening since at least 1993. I remember learning about the role that the Texas Rangers played in facilitating state sanctioned violence, and the eventual creation of the Border Patrol.
The border region and it’s communities have witnessed a history of violence, bloodshed and impunity which in some ways has changed, but in many more has remained the same.
Through local San Diego efforts and the wider border region work of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), I’ve come to understand the ways in which the border region is heavily militarized and the impact it has on border communities then and now. I know that Border Patrol agents are stationed all along the border and have an abundance of unchecked powers at their disposal, and through a recent Executive Order, they will eventually have an additional 5,000 agents, totaling 25,000 agents.
I have witnessed family members who’ve lost a loved one at the hands of Border Patrol’s abuse of power share their reality and speak about their painful and traumatic stories, desperately seeking justice for their loved one with little to no concrete results. I’ve learned that over the years, given different operations (i.e. Operation Gatekeeper, Hold the Line, among many more) migrants crossing by foot are faced with taking life-risks when they attempt to cross through the high-heat desert terrains.
It is my personal hope, that through this caravan I am able to share my humanness, my truth and my essence with all those we meet along this journey.
I hope that the caravan will motivate people to get involved and organized. I hope that we are able to empower ourselves and others to live our lives a little less afraid. I hope that as border communities we can continue building and strengthening our power to ensure our collective voices are not ignored or left out of life-changing policy and broader decision making.
Jesus Daniel Mendez Carbajal is a DACA recipient and a human rights organizer with Alliance San Diego, a community empowerment organization. Alliance San Diego is a member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. You can reach him at [email protected]