Long title, right? Fits, though. Border and immigration crisis topics are hot button topics these days.
Except, as I discovered a few months ago, not everybody gets the picture. If we turn on the TV and pick a politically oriented channel, it becomes clear that our elected Republican leaders (led by President Trump) and our elected Democrat leaders (led by House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others) have diametrically opposing views. Republicans are frustrated. Democrats–at least in leadership positions–are obstinate. For a long time, Democrats didn’t even admit there was a crisis. Now they will go that far but still seem to feel balking the Republican President, giving him anything that might redound to his benefit politically, deserves higher priority than addressing the issues.
Last January, at a time when most Democrats were still in “there is no crisis” mode, I had a lengthy talk on the phone with a close family member who was driving home from work. Let’s call her Cindy for the sake of privacy. Cindy had fifty tough miles of stormy weather to cover in subzero conditions on black-ice roads, well after dark. She was returning my call and, having her cell phone set up hands-free, felt chatting with me might help her keep from falling asleep en route.
Falling asleep while driving near-blind on black ice is probably not a good idea.
Somehow, we ended up talking politics. This is something we’ve hardly ever done. There is a great deal of respect and love between us, but politically we’ve never been on the same page. I’ve voted all over the spectrum, sometimes for the Democrat in my early years, not infrequently as an Independent (think Ross Perot, 1992), and pretty much straight Republican in recent years. She, on the other hand, has (as far as I know) been a straight-ticket Democrat from Day One.
We talked about the border. It was the one–the only–specific topic where I felt my personal knowledge was sufficient to go into details. It would keep her awake for sure. Among other things, I remember telling her about the number of illegal immigrants Pam (my wife) and I observed when we lived within sight of the border fence in southern Arizona. For the first year and a half, until the Border Patrol put a portable surveillance unit right near our property, we estimated that an average of 150-200 illegals trekked north through our 20 acres every week.
They didn’t bother us. We didn’t bother them. But we could hear them talking, sometimes see their rare use of flashlights, and in the afternoons I would go out and “scout for sign,” getting an idea from the tracks just how many there’d been.
Cindy made it home safely, yet I was left a bit unsettled. There were a few more details I felt she ought to have. The following letter, slightly adjusted for privacy reasons prior to publication here, is the result of that mild angst.
After you didn’t pick up the phone at 11:30 a.m. today, I decided to put a little data down in print. During our chat while you were driving home last night, you asked in essence, “Can it be that bad?” Yes, it can, and then some. Economically speaking, there is every reason for a huge percentage of countries south of the Rio Grande to flee north to the USA, no matter the difficulty.
Some of the following numbers are sort of apples and oranges, so the details must be attended, but here goes, leading with numbers gleaned from the Internet–some of which vary a bit according to source.
Note: As you know, “average” means a lot of people earn much less than that.
- Annual Mexican household average income………………$ 10,188.
- Annual Honduran per capita income………………..$ 580.
- Annual Guatemalan per capita income………………………….$ 1,619.
- Annual Ecquadorian per capita income………….$ 5,364.
- Annual U.S. household income (as of June, 2018)…,,,,,….$ 62,175.
To put some of that into human perspective, in some of the poorest Mexican areas, especially in southern Mexico, the first son born into a family grows up hoping his mother will gift him with many sisters–whom he will control and run as prostitutes, providing the family with most of the little money they will ever have.
We did not talk a lot about the horrible costs, both to the USA and to the innocent seekers of a better life from south of the border. Again, a brief list:
- There is no county in the continental United States that is not paying the price for drugs coming across our southern border. There are Mexican cartel drugs right here in Deer Lodge, Anaconda, Missoula, and even your small home town, right now. In many ways, the drug cartels own the country of Mexico.
- There are areas of U.S. soil in southern Arizona, some of them quite sizeable, one of which lies no more than 70 miles west of our Border Fort, where the feds have already given up and invaders rule unmolested. Want a federal park where the U.S. has now posted signs for Americans to stay out because they are not safe there? We have that.
- Coming north, female immigrants (who have already paid thousands of dollars for cartel-approved “coyotes” to smuggle them into the United States)…these women and girls are routinely raped. There are even “rape trees” (I’ve seen them with my own eyes) where perpetrators proudly hang their victims’ panties as proof of their conquests.
- Human trafficking is rampant, young women and children smuggled into the U.S., then betrayed into lifelong slavery as prostitutes and/or sweat shop workers, right here within our borders.
- It is not uncommon for a cartel to require as part of the price of passage that the illegal immigrant work his way north as a drug mule, usually toting an 80 lb. drug pack under terrible conditions. The desert is a harsh mistress.
- In our first year down there, Pam and I lost three neighbors to violence from illegals:
- A senior Border Patrol agent, only allowed to fire beanbags under the rules of engagement at the time, gunned down with a rifle actually provided by the U.S. in Operation Fast and Furious–a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firerarms “bright idea” that deliberately allowed more than 2,000 rifles to “disappear” across the border. They thought they could reel in bigger fish when they did this, but they completely lost track of the weapons, and some of them came back across the border to kill our own people.
- A third generation border rancher was gunned down when he approached an illegal lying curled up on his ranch, thinking to help as he’d done many times before. But the man was faking, uncoiled with a stolen pistol in his hand, and shot both the rancher (in his sixties) and the rancher’s dog.
- Just across the border in New Mexico (not all that far from us), there’s a little ghost town that was owned by a man who ran it as a sort of hopeful tourist trap. He went to check out a report about a possible illegal showing up on the property. The illegal shot him down.
- How pervasive is the drug activity? Beyond words. Example: Lionel (fictionalized name), whom I got to know personally a few years prior to his death on the streets of Sierra Vista. Lionel was a Vietnam vet, had literally been dropped on his head as a baby, and learned to smoke pot in ‘Nam. At one time, he used to walk along the border fence south of Sierra Vista with an empty lunch box. He would throw the empty box over the fence and his supplier would throw a packed-to-the-gills box back over the fence to Lionel, providing him with drugs to both use and sell. Lionel was not overly bright. He’d done a few years in prison yet always found great pride in boasting about the time he and his supplier drove a small pickup north from the border, tonneau cover on the back, carrying 800 lbs. of drugs. The little truck was so overloaded, its back end nearly dragged on the ground.
- One close friend of mine has a son who sold drugs for years. He was never caught and miraculously got free of the web, but for more than a decade he was in the mix. (Becoming a father straightened him out.)
- Here in our home country, millions of what could be American jobs are lost to illegals, many of whom manage or work for businesses that take cash only and pay no taxes, further burdening our economy. Mexican roofer? Lawn care? Restaurant? You name it, there are Mexican-owned businesses who do it. Trucking companies aren’t quite as vulnerable because they’re more tightly regulated, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the presence of illegal immigrant drivers in the oil patch had some sort of negative impact on my wages. It would have to be that way. Patch drivers are in a pure-competition market. If you’re good, as I was, you can hold your own. But would I have been making more per hour if they weren’t there? Indubitably.
- The cash runs south, back to their families. Understandable, even commendable, but again, a great sucking sound from the U.S. Those billions of dollars are not spent on goods and services within our borders.
Gotta get this in the mail and head for Anaconda. One final thought: It seems appropriate that on what would have been my English-teacher mother’s 106th birthday, I’m writing an educational letter to you.
It’s been a while since I wrote anything political, in part due to getting sick and tired of comments lacking courtesy. Which brings me to say: Feel free to ask questions, express your point of view, whatever you like…as long as it’s reasonably polite. If you think I’m way off base and wish to discuss the matter, I have no problem with that. In fact, I encourage it. On the other hand, any comments that are nothing but attacks will be summarily deleted, with prejudice.
This site is maintained as a place where anyone can hang out without fear.