Civilians as suspects – living in border town

The Guardian has an article about how American citizens are treated by the Border Patrol – the guys who drive many miles north of the Mexican border and are a constant reminder of the unofficial constitutional free zone. The folks who are trying to make a living from a tourist related business are giving up. Why even bother visiting Bisbee or any other small charming town within 50 to 100 miles of the boarder if tourist have to prove that they are indeed citizens?

They claim the “border surge” has led to the erosion of civil liberties, a decline in tourism, diminishing property values – and has forced migrants to trek through remote and dangerous desert areas. Even as the overall number of migrants has fallen, figures show, deaths from dehydration and exposure remain constant. At night in Arivaca, there’s a near constant border patrol presence, searching for migrants moving under cover of darkness. “Our lives have changed. We have less freedom,” says protester Carlotta Wray. “We see helicopters, border patrol on the road everywhere. We travel, we get checked.” In one encounter a border agent allegedly told a local man: “You have no rights. You’re a suspect because you live here.”

Yes the border patrol does harass everyone (the citizens and especially anyone of color). Checkpoints are set up and the experience leaves a very bad taste in our mouths. A few years ago we had to stop and wait in a long line of cars several miles north of Bisbee, Arizona, and at other places as we tried to see the natural wonders of that area. Eventually tourists get the message and don’t return. The boarder patrol remind me of the military police that I had to deal with on a daily basis. Most were just doing their jobs but there are the mean sadist. The real creepy ones are drawn to jobs where they can let their evil side out.

Native Americans living in New Mexico have told me that the border patrol has harassed themselves as well as family members. This pattern of harassment by border patrol was documented in the book Border Patrol Nation. I read this book months after I hear the first hand account of racial discrimination of tribal members by the Border patrol. (I was trained as a Cultural Anthropologist and I grew up in Hawaii among the Native Hawaiians. There are a lot of similarities between Native Hawaiians and Native Americans.)

“But the political complexity of US border enforcement is exacerbated by allegations of excessive force. A report leaked to the Los Angeles Times found there were 67 shootings involving border patrol agents between January 2010 and October 2012, resulting in 19 deaths. By the agency’s count, they have responded with deadly force 43 times, causing 10 deaths, most of them unarmed migrants.”

The border patrol is currently getting unwelcome attention because of the large number of children crossing the Mexican U.S. border. There are reports of sexual abuse and inhumane conditions at the places where children are bein held. What sort of hell is going on in the countries that the parents are sending their children north?

“Civil liberties groups accuse the agency of a shoot-to-kill policy. Rapid expansion, say critics, has led to poor training and a bullying culture. In one lawsuit a border patrol agent in Chula Vista, California, is accused of leaping on the bonnet of a car driven by an unarmed mother of five and shooting her. In another, a customs officer in Texas is accused of violently pushing a disabled woman to the ground. She subsequently suffered a miscarriage.”

To many townsfolk, it is the border patrol, not Mexican drug smugglers, who have made life worse. It claims increased border patrol presence has led cartels to transform into paramilitaries. Increased security on the US side has forced the prices of guides – coyotes – and smugglers up, which plays into the hands of the Mexican gangs.”

Whenever I one of the border patrol fellas (so far I hand only seen males in that job) stops us at a check point miles from the border, I feel so sad to see how deeply this country has fallen. First step is to get rid of the rotten sadistic border guards. Why are they allowed to constantly harass people who are living close or even next to the border? If crimes have been committed by individuals of the border patrol those found guilty should go to jail.

Tourist – snowbirds will return when the militarization of the border is eased. There are enough rotten apples that meeting just one is a turn off to make a return visit. I can not recommend a visit to the militarized zone near the border. There is another companion article in the Guardian about the mass grave full of people – human beings – undocumented migrants who didn’t survive the trip.


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