Ajo, Arizona/USA 04 01 2018 The village of Ajo near the Organ Pipe cactus national monument

Ajo, Arizona, is the story of a better America

Updated 2:34 PM ET, Fri December 6, 2019

Deborah Fallows is the co-author with her husband, Atlantic writer James Fallows, of "Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America." An HBO documentary based on the book is currently in production. Fallows is also a fellow at New America. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)Take a walk through the oasis of green grass and palm trees in the central plaza of the tiny Sonoran Desert town of Ajo in southwest Arizona. You're likely to run into a Native American from the Tohono O'odham tribe, a Hispanic from the United States or nearby Mexico, or a white person, whom the whole town refers to as Anglo. These three cultures comprise most of the population of Ajo -- and always have.

Deborah Fallows
You might meet a construction worker, a visiting artist, a teacher, a preacher from one of the two bright-white churches that anchor the plaza, a snowbird or an employee of the Customs and Border Protection, which works checkpoints, the desert and the border with Mexi