Sept 27, 2007
Notes And Observations About Living On The Border
I live in southeastern Arizona in a city which is the last legal port of entry into the US from Mexico in the state.
Needless to say, what happens in Mexico and what the US plans to do about the porous border has an impact on my life.
There has been a lot of talk and a law passed (without funding) for building a physical and virtual fence, a wall if you will, allegedly to keep people from entering the US illegally.
I don’t see this impacting my life on a large scale. The only real negative effect will be on the aesthetics, because the government has been building the fence out of surplus portable metal landing mats.
The mats are truly ugly, but they rust and won’t last long.
They are not effective at keeping people out because teams of Mexicans with torches cut holes in them every night and enter the country. Every night a number of them seem to make it up the alley behind my property, and I live nine blocks from the border.
This is actually great for the local economy because it provides union scale government wages for three teams of welders who repair the hideous fence every day.
It is obvious that the physical fence deters few people.
The virtual “fence” is even a bigger farce. Sensors are place all along the border and cameras are “strategically” positioned.
This is great for determining where people are crossing and taking pictures of them, while doing nothing to stop the influx of foreigners.
This is because the people cross in the dead of night in very remote areas, and by the time the Border Patrol or other law enforcement gets there to apprehend them, they are long gone.
It’s logical then to assume that the BP would stake out known border crossing points and grab the people and drugs as they came through.
Sounds good, but it is even more logical to assume that the polleros (people smugglers) and burreros (drug smugglers), will rapidly move their point of entry from where the BP are waiting. Besides, the smugglers always have a guide scouting ahead.
Ultimately walling off the US from the outside world will do nothing to stop the flow of illegal immigration or drugs.
The only solution that will have any long term and lasting effect is to help Mexico and other third world countries resolve their economic problems through a large internationally administered micro-loan program. This could be done with a fraction of the money being pissed away in Iraq.
Micro loans have been proven over and over again to work. As a matter of fact, the Banker from Bangladesh who developed the micro-loan program was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
I have talked with many “illegal” border crossers. They cross because they is no work where they are from, or if there is work, it doesn’t pay enough to live on, much less get ahead.
One item that most people in the US are not aware of is the large increase in “illegal” immigration after the passage of NAFTA.
NAFTA destroyed the small Mexican subsistence farmer. They couldn’t compete with mechanized, subsidized and imported US farm products.
In a mass exodus, it has been estimated that more than 12 million Mexicans farmers were forced to leave their land.
They move to cities in Mexico, and when they discover they can’t make a living there, they vote with their feet by walking to the US and finding work.
They have no desire to be away from their wives, children and loved ones, and now the second largest source of income in Mexico after petroleum is the money repatriated by these workers to support their families.
“Third world” people are in the US, not out of love of the USA, but out of economic necessity.
And once they arrive they are normally indentured for up to three years to pay for the trip North.
I’ve watched bales of marijuana being pitched over the fence not a hundred yards from the port of entry, while a BP agent watches the fence a hundred yards further along.
If the drug runners are worried, they will run a decoy across two or three hundred yards away from their point of entry. Then all the “law enforcement” officers take off after the fleet footed decoy like a pack of dogs, and the actual smugglers cross unobserved.
A conservative estimate of the dollar value of the drugs smuggled into the US every year from Mexico is $74 billion.
Ronald Reagan instituted the “War On Drugs” in the 1980s. The price of drugs has not risen for lack of supply, but has actually dropped when inflation is taken into account.
I have watched and studied Mexico since the 1960s and lived in Mexico for a total of twelve years. Every president that has come to office in Mexico during that time claims he wants to do something about corruption.
Up until about 2,000 that was truly a joke.
The new president, once he was in office would send troops out and make a few arrests, and get anti-drug funding from the US, and then things would quickly resort to normal.
In 2,000 President Vicente Fox really wanted to change that, and at first he went after corruption in a big way. He was upsetting the $74 billion dollar a year industry that had grown by leaps and bounds since the “Declared War On Drugs.”
One of his cousins was executed gangland style and the word was put out for Fox to back off. He did. He didn’t have any other choice.
In the 90s when I was living in Los Mochis, Sinaloa I asked a good friend of mine who was Commandante of the local police force why he took bribes from drug smugglers.
He said, “When three men armed with AK47s come into your office and throw a brief case on your table with a hundred grand in it, and say, We know you live at 631 Calle 9, and that your children go to Escuela Flores. If you want your children to live and grow up, you will take this money and look the other way. It’s then you take the money. At first your stomach hurts, but you get used to it, and pretty soon you get accustomed to the money.”
The same thing that happened to Vicente Fox is happening to the current Mexican President, Felipe Calderon. He came in with great fanfare and was sending Federal Troops everywhere and destroying a lot of marijuana.
That’s first year show and tell for the Gringos.
A husband of a cousin of the President was executed gangland style in Mexico City. Calderon was told to back off and he has.
Sometimes it’s rather dangerous to eat on the other side of the border from where I live. It’s not the food, the restaurants are actually better across the line than the little city I live in.
Sometimes you can just be unlucky in your choice of restaurants.
Three years ago the Police Chief of Agua Prieta, and a restaurant owner, two employees and an unlucky patron were gunned down while eating and working.
The new mayor had made a deal with the Tijuana cartel to take over operations in Agua Prieta, while the Police Chief was still in the employ of the Sinaloan cartel. The restaurant owner was from Sinaloa and the employees had the misfortune of working there as did the person eating there.
This year in Cananea, a Sonoran mining town forty-five miles away from here, 14 people were killed in a drug turf war.
You can read about this at BorderReporter.com.
Since the “War on Drugs” began, the prison population in the US has ballooned.
This effects me because a sizable percentage of the population in the city have served time in prison, and most of those were because of drug charges.
This is at a huge expense to the American public.
One of the major obstacles to changing the drug laws in the US is the “War On Drugs” itself and the large (now thoroughly entrenched) bureaucracy that is dependent on it. There is too much money involved; therefore, nothing is going to change.
In most every way, Douglas, the city I live in, is dependent on drugs and illegal immigration.
There is a huge number of “law enforcement “people here, and all their staff. They wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for drugs and illegal immigration.
Since most of the maquilladoras in Agua Prieta have closed and moved to China, Agua Prieta is almost entirely dependent on drugs and illegal immigration.
Even the Super Walmart and other retailers here are dependent on drug and illegal immigration. Upwards of 80 percent of the retail sales here is to Mexican nationals.
Until early 1970’s Agua Prieta and Douglas were approximately the same size–10,000. Now Agua Prieta has upwards of 180,000 (that is more than the population of Cochise County which is almost as large as the state of Rhode Island). Douglas now has approximately 18,000. The greatest surge in the population of Agua Prieta was afer the passage of NAFTA.
Do I think things will really change? No. And that is because the USA wants a band-aid solution for both Illegal Immigration and Drugs. They have no intention or desire to go after the root causes of the problems.