In Tijuana, family members visit through a border fence. The U.S. Border Patrol permits this for only a few hours on weekends. Since 1982, the number of Border Patrol agents has increased five-fold, a new fence has gone up, and deportations have reached record levels, separating families. (above)

Poverty and violence are the causes of much migration. In the Rosarito colonia in the hills above Nogales, Mexico, parts of a home are made from cardboard. Old bedsprings serve as a fence. Residents must carry drinking water from the city below. Jobs in multinational-owned maquiladoras pay miserable wages.

Things often end badly for migrants. At Baylor University, in Waco, Texas, forensic anthropologist Dr. Lori Baker identifies human remains found in Texas. At least 6,000 people have died crossing the border since 2000. Many are never identified.

Those who die are not forgotten. In southeastern Arizona, the School Sisters of Notre Dame plant crosses at sites where bodies were found. At the border fence in Nogales, Arizona, the School of the Americas Watch held a candlelight vigil as part of its border encuentro in October. The group has long protested the role of the U.S. military’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Georgia, in training Latin American military officers, some of whom return home to torture or murder their own citizens. This year, SOA Watch focused on the increasingly militarized border and the role of U.S. foreign policy in driving the flow of migrants.

Participants march through the U.S. Border Patrol’s checkpoint about twenty miles north of Nogales, Arizona, on Interstate 19, where motorists are asked about their citizenship. The marchers called for an end to all interior checkpoints.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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