Recent immigrants to this nation have been called many things, yet one term has been missing from the vernacular that may be the most accurate.
Put aside the political rhetoric for now and consider yourself as a human being of undisclosed nationality.
Now imagine that your government is corrupt and that foreign multi-national corporations and drug cartels are in charge. Violence is a common occurrence and your family not only has to worry about starvation, but about being assassinated.
To add to this, a few hours to the north is a safe haven, where border violence stops and does not seep over, and your kids have a chance of not going to bed hungry at night, but most importantly you are no longer in a drug cartel rivalry zone.
What would you do? Would you get the hell out of Dodge ASAP, or would you file paperwork at the corrupt government office, wait ten years, pay thousands of dollars, and maybe have a chance of leaving then?
Any head of any household would put their family’s safety first, and that includes you. Safety first is a common phrase here in the United States, so wouldn’t we apply this to our own families first beyond the workplace?
Violence in Mexico is a direct result of American’s demand for drugs. You don’t need to be reminded how dangerous things are, but in case you haven’t heard the latest, consider the following from the Nogales International newspaper:
All spoke on condition of anonymity, some fearing for their jobs because they’re not allowed to speak to the press, others for their lives.
The fight in Tubutama is between the Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and a faction of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, whose leader, Arturo, was killed in a gun battle with the Mexican Navy in the southern city of Cuernavaca last December. His brother, Hector Beltrán, has reportedly taken over the cartel’s activities.
Beltrán’s lieutenant in northern Sonora is identified by law enforcement sources as a man known as “El Gilo,” and he has established himself in Tubutama with an unknown number of gunmen. According to U.S. Border Patrol sources, Gilo’s gunmen confronted the Mexican Army on June 12 in Cerro Prieto, near Tubutama.
Rivaling Gilo is a network of Sinaloa Cartel factions from the towns of Altar and Caborca. They include a Santa Ana-based gang called Los Jabáli. This gang was headed by a Sinaloa Cartel henchman, Jose Vásquez Villagrana, who was arrested last February.
Waiting in ambush
According to a Sinaloa Cartel associate, at about 9 p.m. on July 1, a convoy of about 50 vehicles affiliated with the cartel left the cities of Altar and Caborca, heading for Tubutama.
The killers had painted large white X’s on their SUVs, pickup trucks and station wagons, to identify themselves to each other for the attack. Gilo’s men ambushed them on a sharp curve along the winding road, killing 21 of the Sinaloa Cartel’s gunmen. Another nine were wounded in the attack.
That’s just the violence. What about finding food to feed your family?
Meanwhile, Gilo’s men are growing desperate, running out of supplies in Tubutama. A week before the gunfight, the Tubutama public works director, Gerardo González Méndez, and the town comptroller, Sergio Vázquez Díaz, were gunned down outside of Nogales, Sonora while trying to take a barrel of gasoline back up to Tubutama. There are no gas stations in the hills.
One Saríc resident now living in Arizona, who asked that his name not be used because he fears for his family in Sonora, said the two towns are being slowly devastated as the Sinaloans try to choke off the Beltráns.
“There’s no food in the stores. You’re not going to find any food there. Tubutama is beautiful, I love this town but it’s bad right now,” he said. “In Saric, there’s about 70 homes that are empty.”
He says his uncle in Tubutama is selling the cattle he owned. “He’s trying to come over here but he has no papers. He doesn’t know how to live outside of Tubutama.”
The drug violence has left nearly 23,000 people dead in Mexico since 2007. Much of that violence has propagated itself in major border cities like Ciudad Juárez or in the state of Sinaloa. Small towns like Tubutama have not seen much of the drug violence.
“You got to understand,” the resident said. “These are tiny towns. In 1978, two people were killed. That was big news. Now, they’re living it.”
One common phrase I hear a lot when people talk about SB1070 is “if you don’t like it, then leave.” Well now apply this to your family living in a violence zone… “if you don’t like it, then leave.”
And leave they have. From NAFTA, to huge agribusiness coming in a disrupting farm operations, and now to the violence south of the border, all of these have direct connections to the United States, including the fact that guns are forbidden in Mexico and thus they must all come from the US, usually from those huge gun shows at convention centers you see all the time. Why does any person need to buy guns in bulk, especially assault weaponry. You can pretend it is for sports, but any deer or animal hunted with those weapons will turn out as shredded beef!
Unfortunately the animals being hunted are human beings, and gun corporations are making a killing in profits.
Either way, we love our Second Amendment here and we also love our drugs. Combine guns, drugs, and poverty and you have a trifecta for the perfect storm, and the resulting tsunami is the wave of human migrants you see coming into this country seeking a better life.
The argument that they should come legally becomes moot once we consider that these humans coming here are nothing less than refugees seeing asylum from a war zone. There is no ten year waiting time – they will seek safe asylum for their families now. What are those words on the Statue of Liberty again?
Out of sight and out of our minds
Even more despicable is what happens to these refugees seeking safety. The morality here is nothing less than wack!
Wackenhut that is.
If you have ever seen a Wackenhut bus around Tucson, that’s the new deportation bus. What happens to a person that is deported? This is an important thing to consider if you want to have any chance of understanding the humanity of the problem.
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If the person has a family of US born citizen children back at home, and Three Sonorans personally knows of cases of this where the father gets deported even though his children are citizens and are now without their breadwinner, they will immediately try to attempt to enter this country again.
For just one moment, consider the humanity here. If you were separated from your family, from your children, what would you do?
What would Mel Gibson do? This is a common scenario in many of his movies. It’s a human scenario. If you separate families there will be a problem to deal with, and if you multiply this by a million, then you got a major problem on your hands. A morally reprehensible problem at that.
But what about those who were deported and don’t immediately return, but are now in a foreign land if they aren’t from Mexico. Even Canadians in Arizona get deported to Mexico. But let me present you with the following dilemma. What happens when you deport 170,000 people and simply drop them off in the city of Nogales?
In a dusty triangle just south of the Mariposa Port of Entry, a group of Mexican men sit on plastic chairs at a makeshift camp, watching a World Cup soccer match on TV as darkness approaches on June 30.
The U.S. Border Patrol picked up the men in Arizona, California and even Canada, they said, and deported them to Nogales, Sonora. The majority are originally from the Mexican interior and strangers to this border city.
Until recently, the camp welcomed deportees like these with coffee, soup and bread, a bit of first aid, and information about food, shelter and bus fares before sending them on their way. But this spring, the camp, run by the Sonoran migrant agency DGAMI (Direccion General de Atencion a Migrantes Internacionales) along with the Tucson organization No More Deaths (NMD), began to offer lodging.
And so when the soccer game ends, the men will pile onto tidy bunk beds in a trailer in the rear of the camp. If women and children need lodging, they get the bunks and the single men sleep on bedrolls on the ground.
The camp added the trailer after a flood of deportations overwhelmed the shelters of the border city, sending migrants spilling out into the streets in search of a place to sleep. Some even bedded down in local cemeteries, where they became easy prey for muggers.
The situation turned so bad that in early June, Mayor Jose Angel Hernandez Barajas appealed to the federal government for help in coping with the migrant influx.
“It’s a crisis for Nogales,” said Alejandro Palacios, spokesman for the mayor.
Since then, migrant advocates say, the pressure has eased, thanks in large part to the Mexican Internal Repatriation Program (MIRP), a seasonal effort run by the Department of Homeland Security and the Mexican government that flies deportees from Tucson to Mexico City during the hottest months of the year. At a comedor (dining hall) run by the Kino Border Initiative, the number of meals served is down more than two-thirds, according to the Rev. Sean Carroll. And Valente Camacho, owner of the Transportes Fronterizas de Sonora bus company, said the 103 migrants who slept at his firm’s small shelter in June was three times less than in July.
But with the MIRP program set to end Sept. 28, those who serve migrants in Nogales, Sonora say they are bracing for another migrant overload. They blame the springtime boom on a general increase in Border Patrol deportations, a Border Patrol program that deports illegal Mexican immigrants caught in other parts of the country through Nogales, and the reality that many deportees now stay in Nogales rather than moving on.
If the repatriation flights stop and these other phenomena continue, advocates say, the overflow problems will return.
“It (the number) will go back up again, that’s for sure,” NMD volunteer Sarah Roberts said, adding that she hoped the numbers would drop again in late fall, when agricultural jobs in the U.S. taper off.
Border Patrol statistics show that agents caught more illegal immigrants in the Tucson Sector over the first eight months of the current fiscal year than in the previous year, said Omar Candelaria, special operations supervisor, in June. From Oct. 1, 2009 through May 31, 2010, the sector reported 170,000 apprehensions, compared to 164,000 the year before.
At present, the Mexican government offers limited assistance to deportees and the U.S. authorities are just beginning to explore the possibility of working with Mexico to ensure that it provides appropriate care and options for recently deported migrants. Unfortunately, tales of abuse by U.S. immigration authorities, human traffickers and smugglers, and local Mexican officials are not uncommon in Nogales. Some migrants report that U.S. Border Patrol used unnecessary force during their apprehension.
“[U.S. Border Patrol] grabbed me and shook me, and kicked me in the leg. I didn’t do anything to provoke them. Now …. my leg is hurt,” said Hector, at the Kino facility in Nogales.
Other migrants arrive at the KBI center with complaints that they were dropped off by U.S. Border Patrol in the middle of the night, without proper clothing or blankets to brave the desert climate. Even more distressing, migrants report that U.S. immigration authorities have refused to provide migrants with water or sufficient food during deportation.
The town of Nogales is also a hub for smuggling gangs and criminal human trafficking enterprises that prey on migrants and exploit their vulnerability.
One migrant, Susanne, recounted a story of abuse and exploitation at the hands of an unscrupulous smuggler while trying to cross the border to visit her mother who lives in North Carolina.
“As I was crossing I was robbed and beaten by the coyote I hired,” Susanne said.
When she arrived at the KBI women’s shelter her face, arms and shoulders and back were visibly swollen and bruised. “My mouth is so swollen I can’t even eat,” she said. Susanne stayed in the shelter run by the Sisters of the Eucharist for several weeks and made a strong recovery.
A drug war on the Mexican side of the border has killed thousands of people this year alone. Deported migrants, particularly women and children, are particularly vulnerable to the rising violence in the Mexican border communities. As the violence from the Mexican drug war increases, local authorities in the Mexican Border States have directed little attention at the special vulnerability of the deported migrants stranded within their communities.
Read more at The Refugee Voice.
Three Sonorans visited El Paso in February and remembers looking south across the border from the safety of American soil. Within eyesight was a whole different world, Ciudad Juarez, where over 3,000,000 people were living in fear and in danger. The week I was there was the week of a mass murder, and while gossip was alive, on the US side there wasn’t much fear as we walked the streets.
Tucson isn’t much different. We are only an hour away from a distant land. Gruesome and atrocious murders are taking place right there, in a desert not much different than ours, in a landscape we might confuse for our own, but because of many factors, life is completely different. Death is a constant companion as one walks through the day.
People in this country of excess will not understand what life is like just a short hour away. If the choice is between dodging bullets, assassination squads, and food shortages, with no bright future for your kids, and between a short hour trip north, albeit without the proper documentation; the choice is clear.
Anyone of us would do the same. It’s the smart thing to do. But we don’t appreciate our privilege. We are still born into a caste system that determines your entire future.
Contrary to Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s xenophobic lies about most immigrants being drug mules, the truth is that most immigrants are refugees of a drug war, and come here seeking a better life in the United States.
While we wait for comprehensive immigration reform, in the meantime what we really need to do is to grant the immigrants here refugee status with the right to asylum, as protected by international and federal law.
It’s the right thing to do.