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PALOMINAS BORDER NEWS & ISSUES
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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.

Byron Slater
=========================================

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 that
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 his surname.

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 115,000.

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, pointing to
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 churning.

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 countries improve.

"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 things."

RETURN TO TOP


80-foot surveillance tower
wanted near river
One of seven considered for U.S. Border Patrol Naco station

02/24/01
Bill Hess
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 Friday.

“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 illegal immigrants.

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 said.

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, Childress said.

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 said.

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 are completed.

 

 

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