Americas Border Wars
Every day thousands of men, women, and children attempt to do whatever it takes. They often risk their lives and that of their children by crossing treacherous terrain to enter the United States illegally. They come in search of work and the promise of a better life for themselves and their families.
There is currently a show on the National Geographic channel which airs on Sundays at 10pm entitled Border Wars. Absolutely no words in the English language can describe the sadness, anger and anguish That this show stirs up deep inside my soul! National Geographic’s motto is: "Inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888". In my opinion, this show does not inspire me to care about the planet, it doesn't even inspire me to care for other human beings! The program
follows the officers and agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection as they scour the landscape at border crossings in the country in order to stop illegal immigrants from entering the country.
The first time that I sat down to watch this show I literally thought that I would be sick to my stomach. These innocent men, woman and children taking their lives into their own hands are met by Gestapo like tactics and treated like wild animals by the officers and agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The word "protection should in no way be allowed to be used in the job description of this agency!
In 1968 my own family escaped Cuba, coming to the United States in hopes for a better life. I was too young to recall the trip, but I have repeatedly heard the horror stories of the fear, humiliation and hunger which my family had to suffer and endure in exchange for that freedom. I cannot even begin to imagine what my life would be like today if my parents had not made that effort and sacrifice. I don't believe that those born and raised in the US have the slightest idea of what living in a Communist, third world or repressed country is truly like. The feelings of such intense hunger and poverty are beyond the grasp of much of the population. The thought of being told where you have to work instead of being able to choose your own profession is almost unthinkable for many. It is impossible for others to conceive watching their child die in their arms from something as simple as a fever because of the lack of funds or medical care. It was hard for me to sit and listen to my own grandmother tell the story of how I was one of those children who almost lost her life for lack of simple everyday medications.
As I sit and watch this show I am reminded and flooded by memories of my own family's struggle to the US. It was impossible for me to overlook the fear on the faces of these men, woman and children as I watched this show in horror. I personally know how frightening it is to have someone yelling at you in a foreign language, and not being able to understand what is being asked of you. For some odd reason people feel that if someone does not understand a language, then they must yell louder in order to get them to comprehend. I will never understand how this makes sense to anyone.
In spite of this show and the Arizona immigrant laws an October CBS News poll showed that 78 percent of Americans still believe that the government is not doing enough to control its borders. Our government has struck so much fear in the heart of our nation that the Department of Homeland Security is now starting to keep a vigilant eye on the southern boarders because it believes that it is the easiest way for Al Qaeda to strike at the United States. I find this completely and utterly preposterous when you take into consideration that out of the 19 hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks, not a single one came to the United States through Mexico! The bottom line is that programs like border wars are showing us that the borders between Mexico and the United States are more secure today than they have ever been in our history. It's a hard fact that Since September 11th the cost of protecting our borders has risen by a whopping 58 percent and the only ones were catching in the act are the innocent striving for a better life. Homeland security is constantly informing us that they are keeping us protected, but from what? I honestly don't see the violence which they so strongly claim is plaguing Mexico spilling into the United States as they claim. If this where truly the case then how is El Paso, Texas touted as one of the safest large cities to live in the United States and yet it shares it's borders with Juarez, Mexico which has more than 3,000 murders a year? Everyone I talk to these days seems to complain that they are losing their jobs to illegal immigrants. I have yet to meet a single person who has actually and physically lost a job to an illegal immigrant. Most jobs done by illegal immigrants are jobs that 98% of the population would not even consider doing in the first place. I have yet to see people fighting for jobs cleaning hotel rooms, Shoveling rocks in 120 degree weather, or picking broccoli all day for minimum wage in Yuma.
The sad part is that these immigrants are paying a hefty price for the freedom they so desperately seek. Coyotes, the name given to the guides which help them across, charge upwards of $1,500 per head to lead these immigrants on their journey through the sunbaked desert. Every year almost 500 of those immigrants never make it to freedom. A humanitarian group by the name of "No More Deaths" has stepped in to try and prevent much of these needless deaths. They carry trash out of the desert after leaving water and food at a drop-off point for immigrants illegally entering the United States.No More Deaths was started in 2004 by Tucson Arizona area religious leaders, including Catholic bishop Gerald Kicanas, Presbyterian minister John Fife, and leaders of the local Jewish community. These founders felt that there was a constant need for their presence on the border to aid migrants and end the increasing numbers of immigrant deaths. By leaving gallons of water scattered throughout the desert they give these immigrants a fighting chance. Even though much of the water that the volunteers leave gets dumped out by protesters, they continue to distribute water daily.
A few years back the body of 14-year-old Josseline Janiletta Hernandez Quinteros had lain in a river basin for three months until Dan Millis, a volunteer with the humanitarian group No More Deaths, stumbled across it. Millis was hiking through the rough desert with three other volunteers, en route to leave water for the illegal immigrants. This young girl and her 10-year-old brother, both from El Salvador had paid a coyote-led group in hopes that they would help them reunite with their mother, who lived in California. Along the way, Josseline fell
ill and had to be left behind by the group.The brother insisted on staying, Josseline being the older sister ordered him to continue on with the group. Josseline died in the desert alone. This however is not the most tragic part of the story. If that wasn't enough, insult was added injury when two days after Millis found Josseline’s body, federal law enforcement officials had the nerve to ticket him for "littering" after he left water and supplies behind on the Buenos
Aires National Wildlife Refuge on the U.S.-Mexico Border. The agents assigned to protect urban border areas like Nogales, Arizona claim that the work has become extremely dangerous and scary. Border Patrol agent Jose Garza, says that they get showered with rocks every night, while he drives the dirt road tracing the rusted fence that separates Nogales from Mexico. My heart goes out to poor Mr. Garza. It must be a nightmare being attacked by rocks nightly! Imagine what would happen if he ever had to deal with showers of real bullets, by real
Lately it seems that America loves nothing more than to argue, fight and threaten its neighboring countries. We sing the praises of being the land of the free, and then we want to crucify anyone who wants some of that glorious freedom. Our greed has become so enormous that it now even extends to our borders. Our American solders fight for our freedom every day, and they are honored and praised for it, yet when another country wants to fight for their freedom we, arrest them, beat them and allow them to die out in the desert. How truly sad a
nation we have become, trying so desperately to isolate ourselves from dangers, outside threats, unwanted contact and foreigners. Unfortunately in order to be a safe nation, we not only isolated ourselves off from the outside, we close ourselves off on the inside as well. I find it harder and harder to be proud to live in a country where they find a way to make it illegal to give your fellow man a drink of water.The brainwashed collective mind of conservative America would love nothing more than to make the United States its own segregated island. If that’s the case than America will end up being no different than the Communist island my parents left behind in order to bring me here. I would certainly hate to think that my parents hardship journey and struggles upon arriving in this country were all lost in vain.