Monday, November 15, 2010

Signs Near the Border

Near the Mexican border there is a sign depicting what appears to be a family running across the border. Oringinally the signs started to be displayed near the border in 1990 to warn traffic that there might be families darting across the highway to evade border patrol. During this time there were several immigrats struck and killed on roads near the border. Currently this sign has become something more than just a caution for drivers. This image has found its way into popoular culture and is now on t-shits, coffee mugs, and even as fine art in the Smithsonian. The image has also become a Rorschach test for how people feel about illegal immigration and immigrants in general. Some have claimed it as a symbol of Latino identity. Others wear it as a badge of anti-immigrant sentiment.” Even though the image has become very popular novelty item, many don’t find it amusing. Immigrants, who see the novelty items in a shop, don’t see the joke it has become, but see themselves. It brings back tragic memories of ones they’ve lost for the sake of a ‘better’ life. The image has truly achieved icon status because it means so many different things to different people. With recent improvements in safety, Caltrans hasn’t recorded any deaths by highway crossers, so now the signs are simply relics. They are truly metaphors for illegal immigration in the United States.

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