Nov. 20, 2007
This past Saturday I went riding with some friends. They each rode a horse they recently acquired and I rode my gelded older mule, Toby, and trailed my other mule, Matilda [also know as Diabilita].
We went for about a five hour ride. We road west along an old rail bed, and then turned south towards the border.
I hadn’t ridden that far out for quite awhile [I normally take a shorter ride].
Riding out, Mary remarked about the number of baby bottles and small children’s and infants clothing left by the undocumented border crossers.
I had a contract for two years where I scoured the desert, walking for hundreds if not thousands of miles, picking up trash left by undocumented border crossers.
It was a great position for me because I love hiking in the desert and it allowed me access to land that wasn’t open to the public.
I picked up tons of trash left by border crossers, and quite a little trash left by the Border Patrol.
I learned during that time that the Border Patrol did much more damage to the desert with their ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles than the border crossers ever did.
I picked up so any different things, that seldom anything would surprise me.
I found unopened cans of sardines, tins of tuna, backpacks of every type and description, every imaginable piece of clothing, including bras and panties.
Various times I found the burlap that bundles of marijuana are wrapped in and fashioned as backpacks. Usually I found items like this alongside the highway where the bundles of dope were quickly stripped out and tossed into the vehicle that was summoned by cell phone [I also found cell phones].
One time, unbeknownst to the smugglers, I watched them load up a vehicle with nine [approximately 50 pound] bundles. The operation didn’t take three minutes.
It wasn’t all trash I carted out from the desert. One time I found ten thousand pesos [nine hundred and three dollars], and on that same day I found a wrist watch that a jeweler friend of mine valued at two hundred dollars.
Anyway, Mary was surprised at the infant items.
We turned and followed the border, and I was surprised, because the grossly ugly fence that closes off Douglas, Arizona from Agua Prieta, Sonora never used to run out that far.
I was even more surprised as we turned back towards town, following the border fence. We came to a large depot of equipment and fencing. This had to represent millions of dollars in material, not to mention the millions more involved in labor costs.
I wondered where the coyote, deer and javelina would cross, because I know that it represents not much more than a SPEED BUMP for border crossers.
To prove that to myself, I drove my trusty four-wheel drive, four cylinder, twenty-three-year-old pick-up along the border on Sunday. I spotted eight border crossers at different locations with no Border Patrol in sight.
Monday I had the opportunity to accompany some Israeli brass out to the normally inaccessible Border Patrol facility. I trailed along with them when they went out there in the daytime and when they made another trip out there after dark.
The Brass were being shown the high tech virtual fence. It was most impressive. In a room with numerous color television monitors, one could see almost every inch of the border and what was moving on it.
When we were there, twenty-three border crossers were seen crossing at different locations.
One could see them as well at night as in the daytime.
I asked what happens then? How do you track them?
I was told agents were dispatched to the precise locations.
I wonder out loud, how long does it take for an agent to get to a location, knowing that the border crossers aren’t going to wait around in any one location.
Then we were introduced to the seven men and women operating areal drones as if they were operating video games.
I learned that the video drone operators were receiving the same salaries as experienced pilots.
The Israelis are anxious to acquire this technology for themselves, and apparently the Federal government is just as anxious to sell it to them.
It is going to cost the US government and its taxpayers billions of dollars a year to operate this equipment and man the fence.
A buddy of mine, who has lived in Agua Prieta for twenty years or better, and who is an expert on the border, and I talked over what I had seen.
We both agree that it is going to slightly change the dynamic of what goes on along the border, but fundamentally it will change nothing.
For a while it will slow things down and make smuggling more expensive, but it will change nothing, because the smuggling will continue.
He and I both agree that the only way to stop the flow of undocumented workers into the country is to invest in Mexico and the rest of the third world.
We are both aware of how corrupt third world governments are, and believe that the only viable way to raise the standard of living in the third word countries is to institute a massive micro-loan program administered by the UN or other such international agency.
If someone wants to get involved in micro lending in a small way and do something about this, and actually earn interest while doing it, they should contact www.kiva.com.
This morning while I was wondering just what I should do with this information, I took a drive east about twenty miles towards New Mexico. There are some plains and lovely rolling grazing land out there, and a couple of bans of small southwestern pronghorn antelope frequent this area. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Their bounding run and their freedom and sense of flight as they hurl over fences always cheers me up.
I didn’t see the antelope, but I saw two different groups of border crossers being picked-up. I didn’t see anyone picking up dope, but if they are picking up border crossers….