McAllen residents concerned about city's image
For the people who call the Valley home, McAllen is a city like most with chain stores, a hospital and a night life, but for the uninitiated —especially after recent political events— a critical eye has turned to the area.
Proudly raised in McAllen most of her life, 24-year-old Victoria Ochoa will not stand by and watch her hometown be misrepresented.
"I've seen my hometown on the news a lot and I felt like people were getting it wrong and portraying us unfairly,” said Ochoa.
It’s the headlines of immigration, the border wall and the deployment of troops plaguing the Valley that has frustrated Ochoa.
"I think it's frustrating as border residents that we are the last consulted when it comes to immigration or border security,” said Ochoa. “But we are the ones who experience the consequences of these decisions first."
The consequences include people losing their property because of the wall and living in fear of Senate Bill 4, which allows law enforcement to ask for immigration status.
Meanwhile, it has been a headache for McAllen city leaders, as well.
"Recruiting professionals has been a little bit of a challenge because they think it's dangerous living on the border, when in fact, we're the safest city in Texas,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling.
Ochoa was unhappy with the Valley’s image that she wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post assessing her experiences of living in a border community.
"Living in the border, you're at the edge of the rest of the world, so I loved it,” said Ochoa. “I loved how it was a place you can be two things at once; you can be American and Latina, you can speak English and Spanish."
Ochoa is studying law and wants to be an attorney who will focus on impact litigation along the border.