What a smashing piece you wrote addressing the multitude of issues surrounding illegal immigrants and the border issues facing the US ("Borderline Insanity," October). Thank you for the thought-provoking information and your efforts in providing a well-rounded perspective from a number of viewpoints. It made some of the political solutions appear downright silly, which I'm sure surprised many of your readers.
Keep the great articles coming. I look forward to each publication.
Your essay on illegal immigration looked at several aspects I'd not read about before. Very interesting.
One area that was not looked at was the possible effect of current laws which may be causing the problem. People do not make mass emigrations without some pretty big necessity driving it. Quite often it is a mixture of economic dislocation mixed with enforcement of laws protecting special interests that results in deprivation and oppression. Examples might be our FDA and the current drug fiasco, or our minimum-wage law in a labor market that must compete with workers who are paid less than our minimum wage, or our numerous laws that make medical, housing and other necessities expensive in a market where wages are being driven down. The same could be true in Mexico. Bigger budgets and more rigorous enforcement won't solve this sort of problem.
We've had some mass emigration within our borders that would have been illegal under a slight variation of geography.
Perhaps we need to review and repeal those laws that may be creating or aggravating the problem. Then we might not need to enforce the remaining laws so vigorously, because they would be in accord with reality. People generally will obey laws that meet that criterion.
Your recent article on "Borderline Insanity" brought more "sanity" to this complex subject than most journalistic attempts I have read in the past. I congratulate you and your staff for this very comprehensive, fair and fine piece of journalism. I have only recently become familiar with Desert Exposure, but if the quality of your article is characteristic of the paper's overall approach to covering current topics, then count me as a "routine" reader.
I also liked your "Continental Divide" reflections on the "realization of the fragility of all we take for granted every day." I feel very lucky to have recently purchased a weekend vacation property in the Mimbres Valley. Just hoping the next big flood doesn't wipe out this piece of solitude and retreat. Will try to keep "smiling" even if this comes to pass.
Again, thanks and congratulations for your keen observations both about the borderline and life in general.
It is truly a gift to our community to have access to such in-depth articles as the ones you did on drunk driving (February), the Millers' wildlife-rescue work (August) and most recently on the border and immigration. Regarding the latter, the issues are indeed complex. I would like to suggest that it runs much deeper than various approaches to controlling the border. What cries out to be analyzed and considered by government leadership in both countries is the underlying issue of economics.
In 1990 I was in Mexico and I asked a man in the barrio where I was staying, "What do you think about the proposed free trade agreement (NAFTA) between the USA and Mexico?" He replied, "Well, I think it will create some jobs in Mexico, but they won't be the kind we need. I know who the friends of President Salinas and President Bush are, so I know who it will benefit."
Apparently President Bush's friends were also President Clinton's friends. President Clinton twisted enough arms to get NAFTA through Congress and it was signed in 1994. These friends were not American or Mexican farmers or laborers. They were giant agri-business and transnational corporations. The rest is history: Thousands of jobs have been lost in the USA to cheap labor in Mexico and millions of rural Mexicans have been forced off their land. Why?
Commodity markets dominated by corporate monopolies and subsidies to corporate agriculture create low market prices, which force small US farmers out of business. These subsidies, combined with trade agreements under NAFTA that eliminate Mexican tariffs on almost all US agricultural products, allow US grains to be sold at 20-40 percent below the cost of production, forcing millions of small Mexican farmers off the land. At the same time, promises of cheap consumer goods in Mexico go unfulfilled, with costs of farm inputs rising 60 percent. The cost of fertilizer has risen 400-500 percent since NAFTA began. And the cost of tortillas, which make up 47 percent of the Mexican diet, has risen 400 percent. Farmers and workers, in turn, flock to the cities or the border to work in the maquiladoras or cross legally or illegally into the US in a desperate attempt to make a living for the families they tragically leave behind. Thousands of them have died in the desert since 1994. I recently visited some small
villages in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. There were elders, children and women. Not a single young male was left. All had fled to the cities or to the border.
Corporations moved to Mexico, leaving Americans without jobs, so that they could pay 40-80 cents an hour. These jobs were supposed to offset the loss of livelihood for farmers in Mexico, but now many of these companies are moving to other parts of the world where they can get even cheaper labor, leaving the people on the border in ever more dire circumstances.
So-called "Free Trade" is creating these conditions in many places in the world. Through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and "free trade" agreements, the transnational corporations are marching on with an agenda that does not benefit the people but does create enormous profits for corporations and the rich. This agenda is creating migration crises of staggering proportions, not just here but around the world. The promise is always that there will be more jobs, less poverty, and that social conditions will improve, but the opposite is what happens.
These observations just scratch the surface of this complex problem. I would love to see an in-depth article addressing this aspect of the immigration situation.
Editor's note: We were overwhelmed by the positive and thoughtful response to October's special report on immigration. (If you missed it, the entire article can be found online.) The article also elicited our first-ever "poem to the editor," which we share below:
I opened a window, swiveled my big chair, looked and listened
You know the chair, the black leather one with an embossed coyote
A dog of coffee-color, a touch of buff and orange eyes
The two of us, both desert creatures, considered the pearl-gray sky
Steady, gently falling rain, wishing an all-day kind
Sniffing the morning air—hearing the pattering wet on dry
Desert fragrance of creosote, juniper and sage
It traveled from the Pacific by way of Baja, Sonora and Chihuahua
A welcome immigrant from the land of Our Lady, Fiestas, Fireworks
Minutemen folded chairs, huddled in vans,
They viewed with narrowed eyes and attended with pricked ears
While I and my resilient canine watched and wondered
Just in Case
In Larry Lightner's Ramblin' Outdoors article ("It's a Truck Experience," October), he mentioned when going out and about in the sticks, a person would be wise to carry OVM equipment (emergency). I have cut wood here in Grant County for 20-some odd years. I agree people should carry emergency equipment. One thing, though, when using that two-ton come-along to get you out of the muck, it's a wise idea to also carry an old ratty blanket to throw over the cable when you're cranking on it. It's simple: That come-along may be rated for two tons, but when you get your vehicle in some pretty hairy positions, you are not only pulling the weight of the vehicle but the obstacles as well. That places a lot of stress on that cable. The point of this is: When you are pulling your truck out, if you throw a blanket over that cable, if it happens to snap, it will become entangled in the blanket and not in your body. That has happened. So this is the rest of the story.
Yes, I carry a come-along, a two-ton and a five-ton. I have a cheater pipe for the five-ton. I have four chains varying in length from five to 20 feet, and a toolbox full of tools, extra water for myself and my vehicle, and, yes, a shovel and an ax. I also carry extra warm clothing in case I get stuck where I have to walk out. It has happened to me, even in a four-wheel drive.
I liked your article, but people need to be aware of the safer way of using a come-along. That old blanket has saved my bacon. I have had them break on me. If the blanket had not been there, it would have taken my head off and I would not be writing this message to you now.
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