The recent acrimonious debates about further fortifying barriers all across the 2000 mile US/Mexico boundary line beg a larger question: Just what might make communities more stable, secure and prosperous while providing more livelihoods as well as wildlife habitat on both sides of the border? What particular natural resources and cultural assets in the region can be utilized to offer long-term solutions to problems perceived to be border-related?
Within the US, border counties have twice the level of poverty and food insecurity as the national average. But how do we deal with the irony that some of these same counties harbor the highest levels of biodiversity anywhere in North America? In other words, they have an abundance of underutilized natural resources that may help lift residents out of poverty, if properly managed. Mesquite (Prosopis spp.) is one of them. A mesquite-based restoration economy may help keep in place those who do not wish to leave their homes to cross border and take refuge in cities for lack of other economic activities.
You can’t solve a problem without first understanding what the problem is.