Traveling West Texas

What Really Protects the Southern Border

The Rio Grande is a small river that can be easily crossed, but it is in a very remote desert.

James Jordan
4 min readMar 8, 2022


Trinkets for sale on the honor system on the banks of the Rio Grande.

It would be easy to wade across the Rio Grande, from Mexico into Texas, without any problem in the remote desert of Big Bend National Park.

There is a lot of border between the U.S. and Mexico, and there is a lot of remote wilderness that is largely desert and untamed. I never knew for sure just what the border was like until we visited it at Big Bend National Park. It’s even wilder and more remote than I had imagined. The other side of the border is also a national park and just as much desert.

I hiked a few trails that went down to the river, and could easily see across to the Mexican side of the river. It is the dry season and water levels are very low.

For centuries people that lived in these parts didn’t worry too much about borders. They did business together and helped each other at times. It’s only become more of an issue in recent years. But even at Big Bend National Park, there are border patrol agents around.

There are no towns of any size to speak of on either side of the border. This is a remote desert on both sides for many miles. Most of the border areas I saw were desert, but there were some ranches and some signs of life.

If someone did walk from a remote Mexican town, cross the Rio Grande, and make his or her way into the park and onward, that would be a super-human feat. That person would have to have someone pick them up, or they would have to walk as many as 100 more miles to a town of any size in the U.S.

If a person did that they should be given citizenship and a medal of some kind — not deported.

Once you crossed the river in either direction you would have at least 30 miles to go before you got to even a convenience store and 100 miles to a town that probably does not have 1000 people. Imagine doing that on foot in intense heat with no water available. It would probably be 300 miles in either direction to get to public transportation.



James Jordan

Teller of tales, many of which are actually true. Award-winning journalist, and the William Allen White Award for reporting.