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In October, Chasing Justice traveled to Texas for a border encounter led by Abara , an organization that hosts educational programs and partners with local shelters to inspire connections at the border between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. During our time there, we met a group of elders who were planning a high school reunion. They shared with us what it was like to grow up near the U.S.-Mexico border. This is part two of a three-part interview series, catch up on part one here.

Lovingly known as “Velia” to her friends, Carmen Velia Estrada (pictured below) grew up in an integrated El Paso, Texas. We talked to Velia and her friends, Elvira and Salvador about how they’ve seen immigration change near the border. Below, Velia (70) shares about the love and community she felt from her community in the past and how she she’s people crossing the border today.

Chasing Justice: What was it like growing up in El Paso?

Carmen Velia Estrada: These people are like my family because we grew up together. It was just fun. We used to play baseball out on the street. Every 25th of June, we call it Día de San Juan, we used to get our hoses and run around the street wetting each other. It was a lot of fun growing up here—the school, the teachers that I had. I went to a school that was all Black, there [were] only five of us Mexicans, and it was great. That’s where I had the best teachers, at Douglas Elementary. Also in the neighborhood I lived in, we had Black [people]. We all got along fine. We didn’t see any difference. We’re all alike. That’s how we grew up.

CJ: What has been your experience of seeing immigration change in El Paso?

Carmen Velia Estrada: I don’t know what’s going on with the world nowadays. I’m sorry I did know I was going to get emotional, that’s why I didn’t want to do this. It’s really bad. I feel for those people, I really feel for them. I give thanks to God that I live here and I’m an American, but it has gotten out of hand and the U.S. needs to do something. I see people out on the streets with their babies and everything and it’s very sad what’s going on. It’s just a walk away […] in Mexico.” 

The views and opinions expressed on the Chasing Justice Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chasing Justice. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

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