Out in the desert on immigrant trails

Was out in the desert southwest of Tucson last August with a documentary film crew that is doing a movie about border issues.

Interesting to watch the reactions of folks from back east to what’s going on here.

Going through the Border Patrol check point north of Tubac being asked for your citizenship….not something that exists outside the border zone.

Seeing lots of Border Patrol agents at the check point and in vehicles on the road between Tubac and Arivaca.

Helicopter flies over.

See lots of electronic towers that look like miniature air control towers.

Driving into the base of the Sierrita Mountains on a ranch road looking for a spot where undocumented immigrants drop their backpacks and get picked up. Didn’t find the exact spot, but found a place that stank of the smell of death. Telling the film crew that last month 59 bodies of immigrants were found in the desert south of Tucson.

Did finally find one of the places with piles of backpacks, jackets, empty water bottles and personal stuff right behind a store on the I-19 frontage road.

Saw the Wackenhut bus waiting to transport immigrants that are caught. Whatever else, chasing immigrants is now a big business. Wonder how much money the US government is paying Wackenhut and Boeing and Corrections Corporation of America?

Wondering if the federal government ever succeeds in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants across the border…how many jobs and millions in profit will Wackenhut and Boeing and CCA lose?

Interviewing some of the aid workers who go out in the desert to provide water and first aid to immigrants. Seriously dedicated people who are focusing on human rights issue. They are finding lots of immigrants to help because they walk into remote areas while the Border Patrol hangs out on the roads.

Hearing that the flat country has been pretty well secured by the Border Patrol, which has resulted in pushing immigrants into rougher country in the mountains. Now the immigrants walk 2 or 3 or even up to 7 days to be picked up as far north as Interstate 8. Most of them unprepared for the long trek and searing heat.

Talking to a business leader about how hunting for drug smugglers in the modst of all the undocmneted workers  was like looking for needles in a very big haystack. That a good solution would be immigration reform to get workers above ground, and reduce the size of the haystack so the really dangerous people…the drug smugglers…would be easier to stop.

Hearing that the goal of the Border Patrol’s “layered defense” was to catch maybe 3% of the immigrants at their check points. And then a football metaphor that the defensive back doesn’t sit in one place and expect the pass to be thrown his way. Suggesting the check points should not be permanent, but moved around a lot.

Crew trying to get a response from the Border Patrol to get their side of the story. No response.


About Hugh Holub

Attorney and writer.
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