Towns situated on or near the United States/Mexico border are literally living between two countries, and two worlds. The result is a population that blends the two cultures to create a unique Chicano experience. The music, food, beliefs, and more reflect this joining of two backgrounds. The following 13 fronterizo towns represent walking the line between the United States and Mexico.
Laredo located on the border between Texas and Mexico. As of last year, the town had a population of 260,654, and boasts a 95.6% Latino community. It has both the Washington’s Birthday Celebration (WBCA), and a yearly march in remembrance of Cesar Chavez.
The name Calexico is the perfect blend of the two places it’s influenced by—California and Mexico. It’s nickname is “The International Gateway City Where California and Mexico Meet.” In fact, Calexico has Border Metamorphosis, the longest mural on an international border fence. Directly across the border from Calexico is Mexico’s version of a California/Mexico city called Mexicali.
There are actually two cities named Nogales, one on either side of the Arizona/Mexico border. The U.S. Nogales is the largest international border town in Arizona, as well as the #1 point of entry in the Southwest.
El Paso, Texas
El Paso is a Texan border city, which is separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande. The Bridge of the Americas (BOTA) or Puente Libre, as it is known in Ciudad Juarez, are a group of bridges that create a physical link between the two countries. Ciudad Juarez is the Mexican city directly across the border from El Paso.
Columbus, New Mexico
The tagline for Columbus, New Mexico is “live life on the borderline.” It is touted as a place where “you can get away from it all.” During the Battle of Columbus in 1916, Pancho Villa’s Division of the North raided the town, and fought against the U.S. Army. Today, the town has a population of 1,609 (as of 2017).
At the very southern tip of Texas, you will find Brownsville. Their motto is “On the Border, by the Sea!” The “Green City” was a site for battles during the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and the Texas Revolution. The population of Brownsville is 91.28% Hispanic/Latino.
Andrade, California was once named Cantu. The unincorporated community located in the very most southeastern corner of the state, within the Fort Yuma-Quechan Indian Reservation. Andrade, with a population of only 59 (as of 2000) is named after Mexican general Guillermo Andrade. Many travel through Andrade to go to Los Algondones, Mexico, for cheaper dentistry, medical care, pharmaceuticals, and eyeglasses.
Rio Grande City, Texas
Rio Grande City is a border locale, said to be over 98% Latino. It has close ties to the motherland; there you can see La Santa Cruz, eat at La Taqueria El Chapparal, and buy a quinceañera dress at Reyna’s Boutique.
The town of Sasabe, Arizona has only 11 people (as of 2011). It appears to be stuck in time. Nearby, you’ll see the Rancho de la Osa, the Sasabe Store, and its post office from 1905. There is also a Sasabe across the border in Mexico.
Campo, California is the starting point of the Pacific Coast Trail. The historic town, with a population of 2,684 (as of 2010) is home to several museums—the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, the Motor Transport Museum, and the Campo Stone Store Museum.
Another incorporated community on the border is Zapata, Texas. The entire area of Zapata is only 9.6 square miles, of which 7.6 square miles is land. It was named after Mexican Colonel and ranchero Antonio Zapata.
San Diego, California
San Diego is on the border with Tijuana, Mexico, and maintains a lot of its Mexican heritage. You can visit the historic Casa de Estudillo (and other parts of Old Town San Diego), shop at stores including Artelexia and Bazaar del Mundo, and eat at numerous Mexican restaurants such as El Indio.
Naco, Arizona is an unincorporated town bordering Mexico. It only has 876 residents, of which 698 are Hispanic/Latino. Naco, which means “nopal” in Opata, also has a town of the same name on the other side of the border.