Expat : Illegal Immigration From Mexico Into Arizona Heats Up

Expat : Illegal Immigration From Mexico Into Arizona Heats Up

Doug Kasian

I am a Canadian-born expat living in Arizona in the U.S. As a dual citizen living in southern Arizona, I have a special perspective on many border issues.

Recently, the U.S. Senate, with support from both Democrats and Republicans, passed an immigration reform bill which would create a path to citizenship for between 11 to 20 million undocumented immigrants. The number is staggering.

But what is even more significant is that this amounts to an amnesty to people who have entered the U.S. illegally. The very recent past has demonstrated that when the U.S. declares an amnesty, it sends a message to millions of other potential illegal migrants, that they too can get both an amnesty and American Citizenship by illegally entering the U.S.

What is most significant of all is that these illegals as well as a number of  other Americans seem to think that the U.S. can support unlimited numbers of people. In the 1960’s when I was in my teen years, the U.S. population stood at 200 million. It is now over 300 million and, if current trends continue (amnesties included), it is on track to  reach 450 million by 2050 !!!

The negative environmental and economic consequences of this for the U.S., its trading partner Canada and the world could be astounding.

If the current Senate Bill becomes law, it will be interesting to see how that law might affect events such as those I’ve recently experienced.

Things are heating up along the border, both literally and figuratively. Now that summer is well under way, it is commonly over a hundred degrees every day. That doesn’t stop, or even really slow down, the human- and drug-smuggling activities along the border with Mexico : 1,969 miles – that is the full length of that international boundary. The U.S. Border Patrol divides it into eight sectors, and the Tucson sector runs the full length of Arizona’s border with Mexico, 389 miles. Although that is only 20% per cent of the entire length of the border, Arizona can claim the following dubious distinction: 34% of all apprehensions, 34% of border-crosser deaths and 46% of marijuana seizures.

The Border Patrol tracks these statistics on a fiscal-year basis, which starts on October 1. For eight consecutive years, apprehensions were dropping, but have been on the rise again for the last two years. If we look at the period up to the end of March, apprehensions along the entire border totaled just over 192,000. During the same period last year, they were only 170,000. In the Tucson sector, they are running about 64,000. The number of apprehensions is typically used as a yardstick to indicate how many people are sneaking into the U.S. Historically, most illegal entrants have been Mexicans, and that still holds true. But, the majority of the growth in apprehensions in the last few years is as a result of more people from Central America trying to enter the U.S.

There is a small town called Altar, in the northern state of Sonora in Mexico. Home to 8,000 souls, the town is situated along Federal Highway 2, a major east-west corridor. It is better known as a jumping-off point for those wishing to travel north and cross illegally into the U.S. A wide, well-graded dirt road heads out of town and makes its way north for about 60 miles until it reaches the border town of Sasabe. Years ago, crossers would make their way up to the border, either on their own or in the care of a coyote, a guide who would lead them across into the U.S. Once across, they would make their way to any number of spots where they would be picked up and transported to a city where they could blend in and find employment. However, about ten years ago, an important change occurred.

The drug cartels took over. The attraction of the money to be made was simply too great to ignore any longer. The cartels now completely control all of the traffic heading north. Actually, there are two routes you can drive from Altar to Sasabe, and each is controlled by a different group of the Sinaloa cartel. Watchful eyes are everywhere – what may innocently seem like a truck broken down on the side of the road is probably a falcón, someone hired by the cartel to keep an eye on anyone who heads into Sasabe and also who leaves.

Sneaking across the border, if you’re leaving from Altar, is an expensive proposition these days. A ride up to Sasabe from Altar is cheap enough, maybe ten bucks. Then, depending on your place of origin, up to several hundred more to the cartel in order to pass through Sasabe. That’s on top of the fee to the smuggling ring to lead you across the border, which nowadays averages $3,500.00. Even if they come up with the money, these migrants are always facing additional risks such as rape, extortion and kidnapping.

Well over 4,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents are waiting on the other side. So. the odds are pretty high that you’re going to get caught. There was a time when you could just cross the border wherever you wanted, and take your chances. Nowadays, you can only cross where the cartel says you can, and nowhere else.

My passion is climbing mountains, and a lot of that is done in areas in Arizona where the long arm of the cartel reaches. I have written a lot about my run-ins with illegal activities, and you can read it all at my website:   http://www.desertmountaineer.com     You can also visit our Facebook page at Desert Mountaineer.

Here is another example of the lawlessness that occurs in the border areas. There is another border town called Sonoita, 80 miles west of Sasabe. Last September (2012), late on a Sunday evening, a convoy of twenty vehicles carrying armed men rolled into town. They stationed themselves near the town’s baseball stadium. Terrified residents fled into their homes while the armed men controlled the streets. Early Monday morning, the convoy headed out of town..

By then, desperate appeals from the town had resulted in the arrival of 450 soldiers and police. They converged on a remote desert area east of town where a large gun battle occurred. This same area, about 20 miles east of Sonoita, has been the scene of major battles between rival criminal groups in recent years. When the dust had settled, one of the bad guys had been killed and the rest had fled into the desert. Authorities discovered that three of the vehicles had been reported as stolen in Tucson, AZ. The eye-opener here is that the highway through Sonoita is really the only travel route for tourists heading to the beach town of Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, in Sonora on the Gulf of California.

There is no doubt that this border region is becoming increasingly dangerous. It appears that the control the cartels have over it is, if anything, becoming stronger as time passes. This is raising real concern for both law enforcement and the public alike.