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PALOMINAS BORDER NEWS
A letter sent to the N.Y.
Times (and contributed by Wes Flowers):
Michael Janofsky, in an article, "Illegal Immigration
Strains Services in
Arizona," demonstrates the severe problems brought about through illegal
immigration. While Arizona is just beginning to see the ill effects,
California has long had to live with these problems. The schools are so
overcrowded that they will never catch up. Gridlocked traffic, water and
electricity shortages are linked to the huge population increases, largely fed
by immigration. A study several years ago by the National Academy of Science,
indicated that the average California taxpayer foots a bill of over $1,100
annually for services to immigrants. Re-emergence of long cured diseases, like
tuberculosis, are directly linked to illegal immigrants.
Since a large percentage of illegal immigrants rely heavily on emergency care
facilities for routine health care, many are closing because of indigent patient
care, for which they cannot be reimbursed. At the rate that our population is
growing, we are well on our way to a billion people in this century, which could
well reduce future generations to third world status.
Illegal immigration strains services in Arizona
By Michael Janofsky
The New York Times, April 11, 2001
PHOENIX -- Benito's small backyard has become his workshop, a dirt square filled
with cars to repair and parts to fix them. As he takes an afternoon cigarette
break, his wife, Carmen, tends to clothes hanging out to dry. Their barefoot
3-year-old daughter, Fernanda, wanders about.
This is their life here, a tattered two-bedroom home and a thriving
business in a poor section southwest of downtown Phoenix. Inside a house across
the street, a man is selling crack to walk-in customers. A few blocks away,
prostitutes troll Van Buren Street.
"In 10 years, maybe Beverly Hills," Benito said wistfully, insisting
this was better than life was in Mexico before he sneaked across the border
three years ago. He remains an illegal immigrant, which is why he would not give
In record numbers, people like Benito are moving to the American
Southwest. Here in Maricopa County, which is larger in area than each of
seven states, new census figures show that from 1990 to 2000, the Hispanic
population swelled by 108 percent, a rate fueled by a rising flow of illegal
immigration as well as higher-than-average birth rates and migration from other
states. The county now has 3.07 million people, of whom 763,000 are Hispanic.
Officials estimate that a third of the 1.3 million Hispanics now living in
Arizona, roughly 400,000 people, entered the country illegally. Five years ago,
according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the number was just
The new illegal workers have helped sustain the state's buoyant economy, and
economists and demographers acknowledge that without them, that economy and
those of many other states could not have grown so fast.
At the same time, their growing numbers - and their work in a shadow
economy that earns them cash income on which they pay no taxes - have exerted
pressures on county agencies. Many schools, hospitals and libraries are
struggling to accommodate rising need.
"It has been a real challenge," said Luis Ibarra, president and chief
executive of Friendly House, a community service agency in Phoenix. "All of
a sudden agencies are not adequately staffed to deal with the demands of the
population they are serving."
Of the four states bordering Mexico, Arizona had the greatest Hispanic
population increase, in percentage terms, during the decade: 76.7 percent,
compared with 46.1 percent for Texas, 33.4 percent for California and 23.5
percent for New Mexico.
Phoenix has become an especially strong magnet. The local economy remained
particularly vibrant through the 1990's, and legal and illegal migrants alike
say they were warned before arriving that Los Angeles and other larger cities
had grown too expensive and the competition for jobs there too intense.
"Here," said Ruben Marquez, a legal resident from Colombia who manages
a shop selling medicinal herbs, "it's easier to live, and there are greater
opportunities to work."
One result has been a regeneration of whole new communities, where rusting
manufacturing plants along thoroughfares like McDowell Street and Van Buren are
giving way to bustling strip malls. In another measure of change, nine radio
stations now broadcast in Spanish, compared with three in 1990.
Hispanics now account for two- thirds of all those attending the city's 13
public high schools, compared with 42.7 percent a decade ago. Two- thirds of the
children in the county's Head Start program are Hispanic.
At city and county libraries, officials cannot keep up with the demand for
materials in Spanish. Toni Garvey, the city librarian, said her annual
budget for Spanish reading and listening material and for Spanish-speaking
personnel had increased fivefold, to $250,000, since 1996. Still, she said,
"I can't hire Spanish speakers fast enough."
The rising numbers have also strained the county health system, the safety net
for uninsured and under-insured residents. Since 1997, the county hospital in
Phoenix has required new employees to speak Spanish and has more than tripled,
to 10, the number of translators who help doctors talk to their patients. And,
said Paul Strauss, vice president for planning and development, the value of
uncompensated care to illegal immigrants and other uninsured county residents
has been steadily rising, reaching $49 million last year.
Francisca Montoya, executive director of Stardust House, a center that
helps Hispanic families, said many of those newly arrived, fearing
immigration officials, were reluctant to obtain municipal services. So, she
said, doctors who volunteer at free clinics in neighborhood churches sometimes
see as many as 1,500 people a day.
Several new immigrants interviewed here through a translator said their
illegal status and a language barrier had left them feeling isolated and
often preyed upon, though some were not reluctant to give a full name.
Pedro Marin, who works for a pool cleaning company, said he hurt his left hand
when he worked for a lumber yard last year and yet was told by a doctor to whom
his boss sent him that he should go back to work the next day. Mr. Marin said he
agreed to work the next two weeks, using only his right hand "because I
needed the job." Then, he said, he was dismissed.
"If I was an Anglo," he said, "maybe this doesn't happen."
Damian Guadalupe, a construction worker, saw the difference this way: "If I
had papers, I could make $10, $12, maybe $14 an hour. I make $6 or $7, and it's
always, `Hurry up, hurry up.' "
Many illegal immigrants said they were reluctant even to call 911 when they
needed help. A friend of Benito said they were afraid that the police would
arrive with immigration agents.
"That's why they are still selling crack over there," he said,
the house across from Benito's. "Nobody around here complains."
Still the immigrants come in waves that include people like Maria Camacho, who
was a lawyer in Mexico, and Luis Mario Moreno Gomez, who was a dentist in El
Salvador. They are attending a class in English, though they know that as
illegal immigrants, they will need years to have a chance for legal status.
Those without legal status have found hope in recent talks between the
United States and Mexico about a guest-worker program that would allow Mexicans
to register as they cross the border to fill jobs that keep the American economy
But even if the talks fail and the American economy sputters, government
officials and community leaders here say, the flow northward will continue,
easing only when wages and living standards in Mexico and other Latin American
"There has always been a pattern of economic migration," said Margie
Emmermann, Gov. Jane Dee Hull's policy adviser for Mexico and liaison to the
Hispanic community. "The only way this is going to slow down is with
economic development in their home countries. Meanwhile, there is at least now
dialogue at a high enough level for gradual change that would accommodate these
RETURN TO TOP
wanted near river
|One of seven considered
for U.S. Border Patrol Naco station
Sierra Vista Herald
PALOMINAS — The San Pedro River Valley is a major
corridor for illegal immigrants.
The federal government has poured in manpower, fences
and other high tech equipment to stem the flow of illegal immigrants
northward. Now, the U.S. Border Patrol is considering an 80-foot high
surveillance tower east of the river and about a mile from the
U.S.-Mexican border to curtail foot traffic though and end the subsequent
trashing of a pristine, protected area, federal officials said.
Currently the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which
oversees the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, and the U.S.
Border Patrol, with the mission of stopping the flow of illegal
immigrants, are reviewing a proposal to put up a tower south of Highway 92
near Palominas, said Bill Childress, a BLM assistant field manager, on
“The Border Patrol has made a proposal to put a tower
on BLM land, just east of the river,” said Childress, whose main job is
to manager the 48-mile long national conservation area. Also on Friday,
Rob Daniels, a spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, said the
tower would hold a remote rotating video surveillance system which would
be connected to a control room at the agency’s Naco Station.
The proposed site for the tower is about two miles
south of the highway and a mile north of the border, he said. The video
facility is one seven new towers proposed to provide more coverage for the
area agents from the Naco Station have responsibility for, Daniels said.
There are numerous video towers already along the border in Cochise County
and the seven new ones will just provide more coverage, he added.
“It will better allow agents to monitor the area
remotely instead of having to depend on people on the ground looking,”
Daniels said. Along with the video capability the Border Patrol will be
putting up more fencing and increasing its other high-tech sensor
capability, he said. The agency is just starting to seek approval for the
towers, Daniels said.
It’s all part of the Border Coordination Initiative
to bring the various federal agencies together to help address the il
legal immigrant and drug smuggling coming into the United States,
especially illegal activities using federal land as corridors, he said.
In Cochise County, a number of federal agencies have
land which is either along the border or close to it which is used by
Childress said while there has been a reduction in the
number of people crossing the border, there are still a lot of illegal
immigrants using the river’s path as a major highway north.
The river area is a good place to walk north because it
has water, fairly level ground, places to camp and wood to burn, Childress
Because of the river’s amenities it also is an area
which is being damaged by the illegal immigrants and the people who are
smuggling them into the country. “They don’t care about what they are
doing (to the riparian area),” he said.
The people smugglers drive vehicles in areas where
trucks and cars shouldn’t go, damaging the environment, Childress said.
It is not unusual for a BLM Law Enforcement Ranger to come upon a van
filled with up to a dozen illegal immigrants, he said.
The ranger has the authority to detain such people but
has to call the Border Patrol to come and to apprehend them, Childress
said. The fence along the border is being cut so illegal immigrants can
come into the United States leading to other problems, he said.
Once a fence is down it lets Mexican cattle cross into
the United States to forage. The BLM is not allowing American cattle
ranchers to use the riparian area as a feeding and watering place,
Mexican ranchers can’t just come into the United
States to round up the cattle, which are an important economic base for
them, because to do so would mean they are illegal immigrants, he said.
Mexican cattle are not being impounded but work is
being done to find ways to have the Immigration and Naturalization Service
officers allow the south-of-the-border ranchers come into the United
States to round up their cattle, Childress said.
The cattle problem is small compared to the illegal
immigrant traffic, he said.
The amount of trash being dropped by the illegal
immigrants is costing him money out of his budget, Childress said. Last
year between $7,000 and $10,000 was paid in dumping fees to the county, he
Picking up the items depends on volunteers and the use
of state prisoners, the latter which has to be paid for, Childress said.
Having the Border Patrol put up a tower in the riparian
area close to the border is “a strategically good idea,” he said.
Daniels said the video capability will allow the Border Patrol to look
into Mexico, spot illegal traffic heading for the border and have a better
idea where they will cross so agents on the ground will be in better
position to intercept them.
“It will also reduce the amount of damage to areas
like the river,” he said.
Childress said there are still a number of concerns to
be worked out between the BLM and the Border Patrol. An environmental
assessment will have to be done to ensure where the tower is located will
not harm the environment or cause any damage to cultural resources, he
said. Another concern is what kind of visible pollution to the riparian
area a tower would create, Childress said. Daniels said there is no
timetable for actually building the tower until the environmental studies