Arizona: The Subversive Handshake

by Anton Flores

Steering Committee member, Anton Flores, was part of CPT’s Borderlands visioning meetings December 7-9, 2007 in Douglas, AZ.

“Excuse me,” the young Border Patrol agent interjected, “but did you give or receive anything through the fence?” I paused, then replied, “Yes, I gave and received a handshake.” “Well, my supervisor would like to speak with you. You’ll have to wait right here.”

“Right here” was alongside the segregation wall of exploitation and fear built by my government. I was in Douglas, Arizona with other lovers of migrants, discerning together how God might be calling CPT to get in the way of policies that dehumanize and perpetrate acts of violence and oppression against our poor neighbors from the South.

I beaconed two young men standing on the Mexico side of the barrier to come talk. As they approached, I did what I would do anytime I was about to engage in dialogue with another person – I extended a handshake. The only difference was that this handshake crossed a(n in)security fence and international borders.

We chatted awhile, then said our farewells and engaged once more in the subversive act of humanizing the “other.” We shook hands. For this, I received a stern warning from the Border Patrol agent.