Human rights, US–Mexico border, Lived experience, State, Community


In this study, we wish to turn attention to how the international human rights framework, developed under the auspices of the United Nations in 1948, is being used by different communities, in particular, the Texas-Mexico border. We emphasize that while the articles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have, at times, served as a protective platform upon which activists have been able to build, these articles cannot responsibly be imposed without attending to and incorporating the voices of those on the ground. Using both qualitative and ethnographic methods, our objective is to amplify specific voices by analyzing how residents of the Texas Rio Grande Valley have produced a counter-narrative that conflicts with the narrative of security (e.g., “the border is out of control”) that the state is attempting to impose upon them. This community’s experience with the state has the potential to stimulate its members to shape the content of the Human Rights framework to better suit their specific needs. Drawing from a social constructionist approach, we privilege lived experience and people’s agency in the construction of second-generation human rights.