Terri Garza was shocked when she started getting e-mails at her home in Brownsville from friends she went to college with in Michigan.

  "They were asking if I was safe, if I was a prisoner in my home," she said.

  Rio Grande Valley residents have had it up to here with politicians from states far from the border, and even some Texas politicians, using phrases like 'crisis along the border,' and 'border chaos' in reference to the influx of unaccompanied minors and other illegal immigrants from Central America.

  "I have never seen one of these children," Garza said.

  Monica Weisberg-Stewart, who runs a business in McAllen and heads the Texas Border Coalition, says phrases like 'border crisis' are completely out of line, and give America the wrong idea about what is actually happening in the Rio Grande Valley.

  "Our city is running just like a normal city would," she said.  "You don't see it, you don't see it happening.  It is a big and dangerous misperception that is happening around the country about what is happening along the border."

  Rio Grande Valley residents say unless you go to a bus station, or go to one of the many Catholic churches who are providing aid to the immigrants, the average person going to work, school, and the store will never see any of the Central American immigrants.  And Weisberg-Stewart says they're getting tired of the rest of the country thinks of 'rampaging' criminals when they think of her home town.

  "It is extremely safe," she said.  "In fact, some of the safest cities in the United States are those on the American side of the border."

  When most Americans think of the 'border,' they usually think of cactuses, craggy western vistas, with a cowboy on horseback riding over the hill.  In reality, the Rio Grande Valley, which has a tropical, and not a desert climate, is a patchwork of more than three dozen communities and is home to about a half million people.

  And many of those people don't want the National Guard, the Texas State Police 'surge' and the rush of law enforcement to their region.  Last fall, a Texas State Police action led to annoying roadblocks which disrupted the commutes of Valley residents.

  "To think that this immigration is affect the way the normal person lives, or that they are seeing this all over the place in their town, absolutely not," Weisberg-Stewart said.

  Many Valley residents say that their communities could use cash from the federal government to help deal with the costs of processing the immigrants, but most are concerned that the 'solutions' being proposed by politicians will be a lot worse than the problem.