Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Mexican Border in Arizona - Part II

Arizona is divided. Illegal immigration is the hottest issue on people’s minds in that state, but discussion seems to vary depending on who is there. In the southwest I’m an “Anglo,” as opposed to a “Latino.” Though I was in Arizona only a few days, I got the sense that it’s discussed openly when Anglos are present, but if there’s mixed company with Latinos present, the topic doesn’t come up. Arizona is about 30% Latino and the percentage is higher the closer you get to the border where I was.On the plane from La Guardia to Tuscon I was seated with two women flying home. One was an Anglo about my age and the other a young woman of Mexican descent. They were friendly and chatty at first, and eventually asked me why I was going to Tucson. I explained that I wanted to see, smell, feel and hear the desert southwest because I’d never been there before, and that I wanted go down around the border area and see how much of what I’d been hearing about circumstances there was true. Both tensed up. We discussed illegal immigration, but only in guarded terms.

In last week’s column, I wrote about what I saw in the Nogales area and my dealings with the US Border Patrol. Agents in the field talked openly until I told them I was a writer. Then they referred me to up to their office in Tucson, but nobody there would sit down with me and discuss things on record. Spokesman Mario Escalante said he’d answer questions on the phone or via email, but not face-to-face over a recording device. I wasted half a day between phone calls while they brushed me off as a small-time columnist.The next day, I drove to Douglas, Arizona about sixty miles east of Nogales. There I saw a new border fence under construction, but the construction bosses I spoke to on site told me they were pulling out after building only a mile for $5 million. What they’d built was a formidable double fence with a ditch in between, but as one supervisor said, “They’ll just go a mile further east and jump there as we saw two of them do this morning right over there.” He pointed to the end of the new fence he built to an older section just like the one in Nogales.At nearly sixty, I believe I could climb over it easily. I looked east to see a straight line of such fencing clear to a distant horizon.It was the same when I turned around to look west.There are two thousand miles of border between the US and Mexico, and a mile of new fence here and there are so many drops in the bucket. When President Bush got $800 million from Congress to build 800 miles of “virtual” border fence, it ended up costing $15 million per mile rather than the $1 million per mile projected.

Meanwhile, the smuggling of illegal aliens and drugs from Mexico continues. Open battles in Mexico between the Mexican military and well-armed drug lord armies are so bad that Mexican citizens aren’t sure who will win. Some foreign policy experts are concerned that Mexico may become a failed state if it isn’t already. That lawlessness has spread into the border states like Arizona to such an extent that the Bureau of Land Management is warning US tourists in five national parks near the border of dangers posed by armed drug smugglers. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said the other day that the majority of illegals coming into Arizona are smuggling drugs. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said this week: “You’re never going to totally seal that border.” She seems to be making the case here that it’s impossible to prevent millions of people from invading our country, so why try.

Napolitano is following the Obama Administration policy on illegal immigration, which he articulated in a private meeting with Arizona Senator Jon Kyl a few weeks ago. Kyl told contituents in Phoenix that Obama said: “The problem is, . . . if we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’”“In other words,” said Kyl, “they’re holding it hostage. They don’t want to secure the border unless and until it is combined with ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’”

Comprehensive Immigration Reform is nothing but a euphemism for amnesty. President Obama and the Democrats would solve our illegal immigrant problem with a stroke of the pen: They would grant amnesty to the 20 million or so illegals already residing here because they would become 20 million new Democrat voters.Hat tip:

Democrats don’t want to secure the border and shut off the constant flow of a million new Democrats every year.Many Republicans are reluctant to address illegal immigration because they represent businesses which profit from cheap Mexican labor.

The majority of Americans, meanwhile, are doing a slow burn over the issue and expressing themselves through their state governments. Arizona’s new law allowing police to arrest anybody in the US illegally is just the beginning. Expect other states to follow as our federal government abdicates its responsibility to stop the invasion of America from the south.


Anonymous said...

Mr. McLaughlin - thanks again for your "on the scene" observations regarding the farce of border-enforcement in Arizona. As you point out, we see that it is up to the states to enforce the laws to protect us.

Please keep up the fine effort to inform and educate us.

Dan P.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people try to sneak in to Mexico. And how are they treated when they get caught. Its all about money and politics as usual. Too bad.
Drug dealers should be shot on sight. They ruin more lives than all the immigrants of any legality. The borders should be patrolled by the military instead of having them fight an invisible enemy in some insignificant country halfway around the world.
We still find the enemy and he still is us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great column. I admire your courage and that of AZ governor Jan Brewer:

pinko said...

I think you should set a good example for all of us, Educator McLaughlin, by retiring from your cushy union job with health and retirement benefits, and moving out west to become a migrant farm worker.

Anonymous said...

How do you build a fence for $15 million per mile? Is there no check and balances against this?

I've heard of cost over run, but this wild!


Matthew Hall said...

What's an "Anglo"?

Tom McLaughlin said...

As commonly understood, it's a fully-assimilated citizen of the US by birth with English as a first language, usually of European ancestry.