Blog Post – Borders and Beyond – Ray Ybarra Maldonado

Blog Post – Borders and Beyond – Ray Ybarra Maldonado

Photo:  Nogales Border Wall – November, 2018 (Peg Hunter Photographer)


Ray Ybarra Maldonado – Attorney serving migrants and Spanish speaking communities

(from talk given January 19, 2019)


About 4 weeks ago I attended a Border Issues event in Sahuarita, AZ.  Today, as I see articles about fake national emergencies and the massive application of concertina wire on the border wall in Nogales, AZ, I have found myself thinking quite a bit about some of the things the speakers had to say at that event.

Attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado

“When you grow up in a militarized zone it sends a signal to you that those on the other side are inferior and something to be afraid of. And they’re dangerous. And when you see your own skin looking like the people on the other side of that fence, you can internalize that you’re also inferior, that you’re also not wanted, that you’re also not loved, that you’re also not special.”  

Ray Ybarra Maldonado was born in the border town of Douglas, AZ. His mother was born just south of the border.  As a child he and his brothers would visit their grandparents who lived 2 blocks north of the border. The border itself was their playground, with a “chain link fence with holes all over the place”.  His older brothers would run into Mexico and see who could get the farthest until “border patrol would come in and say ‘hey, go back to grandma’s house.’ ”

Speaking about his work as an Immigration Attorney –  I like to go with the bigger picture…” and here Ray Ybarra Maldonado quotes Stokely Carmichael:

I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people.  For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black, I am a human being, therefore I have a right to go into any public place.  White people didn’t know that. Everytime I tried to go into a public place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell the white man, “He’s a human being, don’t stop him.”  That bill is for the white man, not for me.

“Immigrants rights?  I see it the exact same way.  I’ve been doing this for a long time.  I’ve been thru Guatemala, thru Mexico, from Brownsville to San Diego and in between.  I’ve talked to thousands of migrants. Not one of them doesn’t know that they have the right to make a better life for themselves and their children.  Not one of them doesn’t understand that they have an inherent human right to make a better life. To work. To migrate… human mobility. They understand that.  What we need to do is pass a law so that everybody else can understand that. …what it means to live in the 21st century in a connected community. […] We don’t need to be talking about building walls, we need to be talking about making the table bigger.”