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Posts Tagged ‘Border Wall with Mexico’

Border Insecurity: Why big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer. by Sylvia Longmire. Palgrave/MacMillan. 2014. 250 pp.

Since traveling and living in the deep Southwest, I’ve often been stunned by the front and center role border issues occupy here. No mere distant possibility, close encounters of the border kind happen here with startling regularity. Our first sighting was in Imperial County where Interstate 8 dips almost to touch the border. There, in the late 90s, we watched as a old white beater Yugo pulled into the break down lane where someone scrambled from the drainage ditch into the back seat and off they went. Another time while in a Nogales, Sonora border crossing line I watched a teenager climb over the steel fence into Nogales Arizona. In the local Safeway parking lot I saw men handcuffed then pushed into the back of a Border Patrol van. This spring, again on I-8, off the roadside we saw five camouflage-clad men carrying assault weapons crouched and running through a boulder field. Just last monthBorder Patrol agents shot dead an alleged drug smuggler on a local golf course after he fled his SUV containing about 500 pounds of baled marijuana. Right now over 1000 illegal minors are being warehoused in Nogales about 30 miles south.

Border Insecurity CoverSo I was led to this brand new book, Border Insecurity for some  on-the-ground information.

Tucsonian, border security expert and consultant Sylvia Longmire does an admirable job of bringing readers up-to-date on the current situation at the border. Dense with facts, light on rant or jargon, Longmire’s book offers a cogent, non-partisan contribution to the ongoing conversation on border issues. Longmire divides illegal border crossers into three general types: drug smugglers and the drug cartels behind them; potential terrorists; and those seeking work. Recently Mexican drug cartels have taken over “coyote” operations and now use economic migrants as “mules”— slaves forced to carry drugs over the border or else. And as cartels become increasing violent, spillover effects plague Arizona’s border, placing additional burdens on already overstretched state, county and local law enforcement as well as the 5000+ Border Patrol agents who now cover the Tucson and Yuma Districts.

Topics range from the border “fence” (real and virtual) and other technical fixes, to dogs trained to sniff out drugs in cars, to the barbaric actions often involved in crossing, to money laundering, to what’s happening at the Canadian border.

Her major conclusion is that tough decisions must be made to develop realistic Federal policies, plans and benchmarks, rather than having a frustrated Congress impose strict but unrealistic legislative metrics to measure border control “success”, for example the pie-in-the-sky 95% reduction in illegal crossings currently proposed. Since the vast majority are crossing for jobs she posits they do not pose a direct threat and should be dealt with separately from the obvious homeland security risks posed by lawless drug cartels and potential terrorists. She also recommends closer scrutiny of the real value of costly high tech “solutions”—now deployed or dreamed of. It’s an eye-opening synopsis of our current situation which also offers some hope for the future.

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The trip was to Nogales, Sonora. For dental work. (It went fine.) I had some time available while Ann was having a lengthy procedure, and decided to explore the older downtown area of Nogales, Arizona—twin cities here, divided in the middle by the ominous, forbidding looking, steel wall.

Camera in hand, off I go, not knowing what to expect in this modest sized border town, which frankly doesn’t give the casual visitor a great first impression. Well, first off I spot an imposing building on a commanding hill, which is the old courthouse. Its columns and grand stairway are impressive. Structurally weighty, architectonic in impression. A real surprise.

Later, I climb a steep road near the old courthouse leading to what looks like a park. And it is, a little shaded gem of twisted drought-tolerant trees, a few benches, and an incongruous Japanese lantern. Around this little square park are situated a charming group of apparently historic homes, virtually everyone of a different architectural style from California stucco Italianate to 1930s craftsman. Another surprise! So I take a few pictures of this tiny, almost hidden pocket of Nogales, Arizona.

On the way down the hill, I walk through what is I’m sure a largely Hispanic neighborhood. I pass a fine mural. In the distance, sighted over stucco and metal houses, looms the darkling, ominous wall.  SRE

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