Border Déjà Vu


by Guadamour
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Guadamour’s blog post
July 13, 2008

A friend of mine was in dire straights recently.  In need of cash.   He offered me a ’96 four-wheel drive Suburban for five hundred.   I had no use for the vehicle, don’t have that much money myself, but wanted to help a friend out.  I thought maybe I could sell it for what I paid for it across the line in Mexico.  I bought the vehicle.

It cost me a hundred and sixty dollars to fill it up.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’ve paid less for running cars at auctions.

What the hell, I have a full tank of gas and four wheel drive, two feet of clearance, I might as well go exploring.

It’s getting to be late afternoon and I head towards Bisbee.  I turn right on Double Adobe Road and then hang a hard  left onto High Lonesome Road.

In nineteen-ninety-nine I had purchased another Suburban for other reasons.  It didn’t have four-wheel drive.

I hadn’t gone down High Lonesome more than a couple of miles when I came to a steep ravine.  I didn’t think anything of it.  There was lots of clearance and it looked to be good traction.

I entered the ravine and as I started up the other side by rear bumper caught up on the rocks.  This left the vehicle suspended without the rear wheels touching.  The vehicle was huge and I couldn’t move it myself.  I tried piling rocks up to the rear wheels to give them something to grab on, but to no avail.  I was screwed.   It was dark and I was stuck there with the two toy poodles, Ona La Llorona and Hercules.  I would sleep in the monster and go get my Toyota four-wheel drive pickup and pull it out in the morning.

I laid down and tried to get comfortable when the dogs started barking.

A group of about eighty undocumented border crossers were coming down the road.  I talked to them and explained the situation and they pushed me out.  I thanked them and wished them a safe journey.

At that time there were less than half the complement of Border Patrol agents as there are today, and it was relatively common to see large groups making their way through the desert.

A friend of mine lives and has a hundred acres in a canyon off of High Lonesome.   At that time Peter said he never had to buy clothes.  He would just pick up and wash what he found discarded along the way.

I shouldn’t have any trouble with this Suburban.  It is four-wheel drive and I have a lot more clearance.

I come to the same ravine.   I am positive I can make it.  I ease into the draw, and the rear bumper gets hung up again.   No problem.  I get out, lock the hubs, get back in, put it in four-wheel drive and ease the clutch out.   The front wheels spin on rock and won’t grab.   I’m screwed until I can get my trusty Toyota pickup and pull the beast out in the morning.   Maybe, I’ll get lucky and a Border Patrol will come along and pull me out.

I try to get comfortable in the monster.  It’s looking to be a long night, and I don’t have any dogs along with me this time.

I’m kicking myself in the head, not believing what an idiot I am, when a troop of ninety-two undocumented immigrants comes along.  I talk to them and they push me out and I make it back home.

To see a group of ninety-two border crossers these days is unheard of.   There are just too many Border Patrol Agents.   People still cross, but they cross in groups of two or three or maybe as many as eight people.   Ninety-two is a huge number.

In 1999 it cost five hundred dollars to be taken from the border to Phoenix. Today it cost from twenty-five hundred to three thousand.

I think about all those people.  92 times 2,500 is $230,000.

A number of lower echelon Border Patrol Agents are cooling their heels in prison after being busted for corruption and other charges.  This is understandable because the Border Patrol has become the largest police force in the country, and they have to constantly lower their requirements to meet the manpower needs.  It seems incredible to me that a Border Patrol Agent with overtime can be making upwards of $80,000 a year, and all that is required is a high school diploma and a clean record.

That still does not account for a group of ninety-two.   That could only happen if someone higher up was being paid off, and was directing people to another area purposely, because there are always at least one or two Agents on High Lonesome.

Maybe I’m being too harsh.  They could be having a major bust somewhere else along the border that has drawn all the agents.   But that would still not account for accumulating 92 people into one group, and the people sending the group would have to know that the agents had been deployed to another area.

This drives me buggy all the way back home.

I check with a friend of mine who has far too much free time on his hands, has a police scanner, and has always been a want-to-be cop.

I ask him if there is anything major happening.  “Nah.” he says, “Totally dead tonight.”