Sunday, May 09, 2010

Growing up in a border town

(The first of two political posts. Yeah I know I don't usually blog about politics but get over it.)

I spent all of my formitive years living in Arizona. I grew up literally 30 miles from Mexico. Probably even closer since that 30 miles is from my town to another town using highways. Growing up in a border town gives you a vastly different perspective on the issue of illegal immigration than those who live in the rest of the US. Most people only see the immigrants. I see an illegal immigrant and think of the coyotes (the people paid to smuggle illegals into the country). And that, in my heart of hearts, is why I have a problem supporting illegal immigrants here in the US. To ME supporting illegal immigrants is supporting the coyotes that bring them here and that I can't stomach.

Coyotes are out for only one thing... themselves. Growing up I read more than once about how vans or trucks had been abandoned with people inside. They had baked to death or shot. According to a governmental report (read it... it's fascinating... especially about the Tucson sector( my sector)), in the 80's there were about 300 per year. By 2005 that number had doubled. Of all the deaths of illegal immigrants analyzed from the 80's to 2005, 25% were due to exposure to the elements... and worse 15% were homicide. In case you care... by 2005, almost 1/2 of all the illegal immigration deaths were in The Tucson Sector. 250 people died somewhere in southeastern Arizona after crossing the border illegally. According to the report, not all of the remains are able to be identified. All I can think is that some of those 250 people had families who have no idea what happened to their family member.

On a closer to home level, my dad went out to get the paper one morning. There he met a young woman who spoke no English. She couldn't have been more than 20 he said. He didn't know what to do with her so he took her to a nearby house where he knew the homeowners spoke Spanish. The coyote dropped her off by the highway and told her she was in Miami (Arizona. It is over 175 miles to Miami AZ from where my parents live.) The people my dad brought her to helped get her to her family in Miami, but hard to say what would've happened to her if she hadn't found helpful people. It's easy to get all up in arms about shit when it is in the abstract, when you're looking at the 'poor innocent immigrant who just wants a better life' but it is just as important to remember that not all illegal immigrants are good kind people. Not all of them want to come here to improve the lives of their families back home.

Remember some time ago probably maybe 20ish years, there was an anti-pot commercial that went on and on about how if you smoked pot, you were supporting all these illegal other things on the back end. That's kind of how I view illegal immigration... by supporting them in this country, we're supporting the illegal means they used to get here and making the coyotes richer and more dangerous. I don't know what the right answer is. I really don't. I tend to think if we could improve the conditions in their home countries maybe this wouldn't be as big an issue. (I don't mean to sound racist. I hope I don't. I just think if I grew up in relative poverty some place or with terrible governmental corruption and wanted a better life and I packed myself up promising my family I'd send for them or return for them or whatever, if where I lived was better in the first place maybe I wouldn't take such crazy risks to try to make a better life for myself.)

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