Welcome to Crossing the Border, a new limited-run weekly newsletter from The New York Times. Like what you see? Send this newsletter to a friend. If someone forwarded it to you, sign up here to have the next issue delivered to your inbox.
Crossing the border can be done in a rental car, inching northward from, say, the tumult of Tijuana. It can be done on foot, over the walkway that runs in a southern direction from Laredo, Tex., to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. I spent four years as a reporter based in Mexico and two in Arizona, and I’ve stood on stretches of the border with one boot in one country and the companion in the other.
With the border so much in the news these days, and with New York Times correspondents spending so much of their time crisscrossing back and forth, we figured we’d offer readers the chance to spend some time there, too.
Follow along and you’ll get a more nuanced sense of the long line between Mexico and the United States. It’s neither as terrifying nor as trouble free as it’s portrayed.
— MARC LACEY, National editor
Heading to Mexico in a hurry
There are no one-way signs at the border. Surging north are migrants, truck drivers, shoppers, smugglers and numerous others. Going the other way last week were two men in an old tan pickup truck.
Following in a long tradition of Americans heading to Mexico in a hurry, the men, driving south out of Nogales, Ariz., made a swift and sudden run across the border. A Customs and Border Protection agent opened fire. The truck roared about 20 feet into Mexico and plowed into a concrete barrier.
“He’s alive, he’s alive!” somebody screamed as Mexican police officers rushed forward.
A few yards away, a tamale vendor named Francisco said he was pretty sure that the driver had tried to run over one of the agents. Then “they shot him in the head,” said Francisco, who is known by other vendors as “El Toro,” but declined to give his last name.
The U.S. authorities did not give a detailed account of the shooting, but the Mexican police told the newspaper Nogales International that the driver had indeed been shot in the head.
A mistaken step on the accelerator? Or a 21st-century outlaw, the latest in a long line of Americans who have found what seemed to be a good reason to head for Mexico?
So far, the authorities aren’t saying. Customs and Border Protection agents said investigators with the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility and others were examining the shooting, which left the 21-year-old driver, still officially unidentified, in critical condition. After being taken to a hospital in the Mexican town of Nogales, the agency said, he was transferred to a facility in Southern Arizona for advanced medical care. The passenger was released after questioning by the Mexican authorities.
“No further details are expected to be immediately released,” C.B.P. said in a statement.
We asked the nurses who the injured driver was and what happened to him. “No comment,” they said. We asked the local sheriff what he knew. “Nothing,” he replied.
Like so much these days at the border, which is often seen as a bright line between Mexico and the United States, exactly what took place is blurry.
— JOSE A. DEL REAL, reporting from Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Mexico
Jose is one of a team of New York Times journalists currently deployed along the border. Each week they’ll be sharing a slice of their reporting about the border and the people who spend time on both sides of it.
Do you have questions about life on the border? Or feedback about this newsletter? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Number of the week: 4
That’s how many times the president has visited the border region since taking office in 2017.
Monday’s rally in El Paso, Tex., was the president’s second visit this year, after a trip to McAllen, Tex., in January. Mr. Trump also visited the border in March 2018, when he inspected prototypes for a border wall in San Diego. In August 2017, he visited a border post in Yuma, Ariz.
This year’s visits, coming amid a congressional showdown over the border wall, were meant to help the president shore up support for what he has called a “crisis” of illegal immigration. Both times — here in McAllen and here in El Paso — local residents complained that the president misstated the level of crime in their towns.
Learn more about: the wall
This week, as the country inched closer to a Friday deadline to avert another government shutdown, congressional leaders announced a possible compromise to avoid it. Votes in the House and the Senate are expected on Thursday.
Here are five great ways to dive into the debate:
• “In pursuit of a wall, President Trump ran into one.” This analysis of the expected deal lays out how the president came to accept a defeat, over the objections of some of his supporters.
• There are nearly 2,000 miles of border between the United States and Mexico. Here’s a look at the barriers that already exist, including 700 miles of fencing built by the United States government since 2006.
• Representative Will Hurd of Texas is the only Republican congressman who represents a border district. On a recent episode of The Daily, he spoke about why he disagrees with the president about a border wall. Listen to it here.
• When Mr. Trump visited El Paso this week to make a pitch for the border wall, he repeated some frequent false claims about immigration. The Times fact-checked his speech here.
• People in El Paso told us what they thought about the president’s view of their city.