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BBC – Sue Perkins: Along the US-Mexico Border (2020)

BBC Along the US-Mexico Border

Sue Perkins brings her unique blend of humour and compassion to this extraordinary journey along one of the most contentious borders in the world.

Chapter 1: Tijuana to Nogales
Sue starts her journey at the western end of the border, in the Mexican city of Tijuana, where she tries just about every sample in a Tequila showroom and is left in no doubt that the city deserves its reputation as a party town. She also discovers an unexpected invasion of migrants: American retirees who have settled south of the border to enjoy the good life and an ocean view at an affordable price.

Over on the US side of the border, Sue spends a day with Mark Lamb, sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, who is engaged in an ongoing battle with the Mexican drugs cartels that traffic people and drugs over the border.

Then, in Nogales, Sue joins a parade celebrating the Day of the Dead, Mexico’s biggest festival. Rather than a dark night of terror and mischief, it’s an explosion of life-affirming joy. The next day is a national holiday, and families all around the country gather in cemeteries, commemorating the lives of lost relatives. Sue is fascinated by the different approach Mexicans have to death and finds that there is a huge amount to learn about life here.

Chapter 2: Juarez to Reynosa
Sue visits the Mexican city of Juarez, essentially one half of a super-city adjoining El Paso, Texas. Here she meets people whose lives traverse the border, including Gabriela, who is bringing up her kids alone in El Paso because her husband, Adrian, is not legal in America and is stuck in Juarez. Every weekend she takes the children to the border, so they can cross into Mexico and be with their dad. But Gabriela is not allowed to cross the border until her own immigration papers are finalised, and in the last six years she and Adrian have spent only 15 minutes together.

For hundreds of miles, the Rio Grande river serves as the international boundary. In Mission, East Texas, tens of thousands of illegal crossings of the river border take place each year and consequently a section of Trump’s border wall is soon to become a reality. Sue meets Father Roy, a local priest who has made headlines for opposing the wall. His historic chapel sits by the Rio Grande, and the planned wall will cut it off from its congregation.

Finally, after 2,000 miles and three weeks on the road, Sue ends her trip at a quinceneara in the Mexican border town of Reynosa. It’s a party to celebrate a local girl’s 15th birthday – a huge tradition in Mexico and the most important night in a young girl’s life.

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