The Border Is
Here - Spring 2001
Illegal Border Crossing Is Down, But Not Stopped - What's Happening?
Two Americans and Two Mexicans
There Will Be No Airstrip Here
ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSING DOWN, BUT NOT STOPPED - WHATS HAPPENING?
In January, a month after the Border Patrol van that went by with crossers who had just been picked up just an hour after Vicente Fox became president of Mexico, I noted that maybe fewer would come or more would come because of things Fox said or did there. An answer came as early as late Jan., even earlier than I had thought. Figures from different sources vary from 20% to 30% less. However, 616,000 crossers were picked up last year in the Border Patrol's Douglas sector (Douglas and Naco) alone. What Fox has said and done is a reason, but definitely not the only one why there are fewer illegal crossers here.
The economy in the United States has become worse in general for about 6 months now. As I have gone through a program in computers with an idea of getting work in the field afterwards, I have had to pay attention to the number of people losing jobs in it, and where. The latest is 4,000 at Dell, the computer maker in Austin, Texas, on May 7 (yesterday as I write this). While these are not farm jobs, and there are probably not too many farm crops in TX now, the same economy that supports computer makers also helps farmers and farm support places decide what to do.
The U.S. Border Patrol has finally increased its presence in this area. It now has 350 agents in Douglas, and 150 around Naco. To assist them, it is putting in 80-foot towers with video cameras on top of them. One such tower will be about I mile east of the San Pedro River and on the border here. The idea is, if a crosser is seen by a sensor, the video camera will record a picture of the area. Then, a dispatcher in the Naco station will direct agents to that area, to pick up whoever crossed there. For security reasons, the Border Patrol does not discuss the range. If its range is not much, the coyotes and crossers will soon figure that out, and there will be an even bigger problem here west of the river than there is now.
People have commented on what Fox has said and done in Mexico. Because George W. Bush is now president of the United States, details on how the federal government now handles the border on Mexico's other side will be different. Certainly had Al Gore become president, it is possible Janet Reno would have still been attorney general. John Ashcroft's Department of Justice directs the Border Patrol. John Ashcroft visited the border from California to Texas for four days, ending May 7. He may or may not be for a guest worker program like Douglas mayor Ray Borane, who was just elected to a third term there. However, politics in Douglas compelled Borane to say that he opposed John Ashcroft's tour. Saturday, Bush gave his presidential address in Spanish as well as English for Cinco de Mayo. Bush was successful in courting Hispanic votes in this way as governor of TX He knows he may need more Hispanic votes nationally in the future. Every crosser, as what would have happened to the ones in October here if they had lost completely, or what happened to the one in early February in the next story after Bush became president, who gets killed costs Bush chances for Hispanic votes. Democrats want power back, of course. Their leaders in Congress, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, would have tried to blame Bush for .the crosser's death, if it had been more publicized. Under the system as it is now on this side of the border, the Democrats still need votes, too.
So, the reasons why illegal border crossing has slowed are not just what Fox has done and said in Mexico initially. Also the U.S. economy getting worse, what the Border Patrol has done, and what Bush has said on this side of the border are reasons. One should not forget that the Mexican economy has improved, in spurts but definitely, in the last 20 years.
There are many reasons why people are the way they are. The next article will be about four people, two Americans and two Mexicans. One of the Mexicans and one of the Americans are alive, while the others died not much longer than 3 months ago (as this is published). One of the persons one of the Americans knew (not a relative) almost died. If he had, the American's life would have changed drastically.
One of the factors that would have affected the border here, is had an airstrip proposed to be on it been constructed. The person who wanted it, Brian Ulmer, is in a vocational training program at Cochise College, as the one I just completed. I must say that his program in aircraft maintenance is much more demanding than the one I just completed. He finishes it in October. Cochise College does its aircraft maintenance program on its campus about 10 miles west of Douglas, and 35 miles east of here. Maybe the article will be able to say where he and his wife Susan will go from here.
As I noted above, I completed my program in administration of computers using the UNIX operating system, at Cochise's campus in Sierra Vista. I now must decide what to do next. I still do not know what I'll do in the future, and I would be dumb to discuss details if I did. All I can be, is as honest in considering my options and discussing them in general as possible. This will be "Muchas Gracias".
Two Americans and Two Mexicans
This is about four people, two Americans and two Mexicans. One American and one Mexican definitely have things to show people that they have succeeded in their lives. Both have not gotten to the very top of where they could be. Probably the Mexican will. have a better chance than the American, because she is much younger than he is. Neither the other American, nor the other Mexican, can be said by most people to have succeeded. They will not get the chance to try again, because their lives were both cut short here in early February last year.
The first is former University of Arizona football coach Dick Tomey. He is now about 60 years old. He won more football games for the UA in his 14 years than anyone else except early in the last century. However, he could not get the UA to the Rose Bowl, or win the national college football championship. He had three bad years in his last four, and people stopped going to the games in Tucson. After the game against archrival ASU, he resigned rather than waited to be fired. He was still liked so much personally within the UA's athletic department, that he got the $650,000 he would have been owed if he were fired. He took the money and went to his home of before, Hawaii. He figured that, when another coaching job came along, he would return to the mainland. Just after his settlement in late January, University of HI football coach June Jones ran his car into an underpass on a Honolulu freeway. Jones almost died from the wreck. Had Jones died, the pressure on Tomey would likely have been too much not to reassume the coaching job he had there before he left for the UA. Possibly UH would have had him for free for a year or two. However, Jones recovered, so Tomey can continue to wait for something to come up on the mainland.
Perhaps readers saw Elsa Benitez on the cover of the annual swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated this February. I think it was on Feb. 12. 1 saw her first on the Tonight show with Jay Leno, and there she said she was from Hermosillo. I then got to dig through the Cochise College library stacks to find her cover. She is more European than most Mexicans. She said she was teased in school for her looks and height. Still, she was part of the upper class, if not at the very top, so she got the best preparation possible in Mexico for her swimsuit session in Tunisia on the coast of the southern Mediterranean Sea. The last time I saw a picture of her, she was in a Taco Bell commercial. Elsa Benitez is no older than 25 years of age. She does not have a long time to model in swimsuits, but she has a long way she could go in a modeling career in general. As she goes through life, she wonders if she will return to Mexico, or even wants to.
The third was Dennis Divver. He was killed by 6 shots as he was watching TV with his family on Feb. 13, just one day after Elsa Benitez appeared on the swimsuit cover. His obituary in the Sierra Vista Herald noted that he was active in a group that wanted to legalize marijuana. An article there noted that a sheriff s deputy had been called to break up a dispute with his wife Deborah.
I met Dennis twice. He was a songwriter of pop music, who was always trying to make the big time. I think he said that he made a hit once. The first time I met him, he gave me a ride about 3 miles to my place in January 1996. Deborah was with him, and there was no sign of trouble between him and her then. The other time was early in 1997, at the trailer of Fernando northwest of here. A few months later, Fernando went to his native Guasave, Sinaloa, about 550 miles south of here. He got a load of marijuana, and tried to smuggle it back. However, he rolled his truck, and killed his passenger. Not even letting the authorities have the load, under the old system in Mexico, was enough to keep Fernando out of jail. He is now on the run on this side of the border, also. The Border Patrol and others have raided his old place several times, but they have still not put together any case against his family, or him if he still works with them behind the scenes somewhere.
Of course, Dennis was not Fernando. (Had he not been picked up for driving stoned on marijuana in Tempe last summer, ASU's quarterback would have been Ryan Kealy. As it turned out, ASU did not need him to finish off Dick Tomey. There are some legitimate uses for marijuana.) Dennis was very easygoing, and he made friends easily, like Fernando. He probably was impulsive, as many people in music become. Deborah Divver left a very nice message on: www.palominas.com and has now left the area. The address is of the new and very well-done Internet site of Doug Snyder. Whether it was because of some drug or other smuggling debt, or it was because he had more family problems than the one time reported, Dennis Divver no longer has the chance to write popular songs, here or anywhere else.
We do not recall his real name, but we do recall that he carried identification, which to most crossers is dumb. We will call him Juan Covarrias. According to the identification, he was 35 years old, from somewhere in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico. Likely, he was. hoping to get somewhere farther north, to make a lot of money to send to his family. He was found frozen to death along the San Pedro River just south of the center of Palominas about Feb. 4.
I have yet to encounter two people in exactly the same situation. One cannot judge people just because they are Americans or Mexicans. Americans and Mexicans have different situations,, and different ways that they have dealt with the situations they were in before. Dick Tomey, Dennis Divver, and Juan Covarrias all made mistakes, and Elsa Benitez may find that her Taco Bell commercial was a mistake, for Taco Bell is at the low end of fast food in the U. S., and probably now in Mexico again. It does not matter if one is American or Mexican, if one is successful. What matters is what people do with the opportunities they have.
There Will Be No Airstrip Here
Brian and Susan Ulmer wanted to put an airstrip on the border, about a mile southwest of here and 7 miles southwest of the center of Palominas. Their proposal was accepted by the Cochise County Planning and' Zoning Commission, but only after a second vote. Opponents decided to appeal to the Board of Supervisors. The Ulmers withdrew their application before the appeal date of Feb. 20.
We must withhold their names, for their safety after encountering smugglers in several incidents last fall. The first neighbor I asked about the hearing on Jan. 10 went from the hearing happy, as the first vote was a 3-3 tie. Therefore, the commission rejected the proposal at first. The second neighbor was unhappy, as the commission revoted 4-2 to accept the proposal. Opponents then decided to appeal.
I was in Bisbee as well. I decided to stop at the county offices on Melody Lane in the San Jose district, to see just when the appeal would be, and to get any information about it. The woman at the planning and zoning department's front desk told me this:
Often, commission members will explain why they voted as they did. After listening to the explanations, supporters, including James Douglass of Sierra Vista Realty, put together another motion. They waited 40 minutes for a county attorney to give his opinion, on if the motion to accept the proposal was sufficiently different from the earlier one to have a revote. After that time, the attorney called back and said that it was. The revote took place, and the proposal was accepted 4-2. This procedure made the opponents more determined than they might have been before the hearing before to appeal. About two weeks before the appeal would have taken place, the application was withdrawn.
There has been quite a surge in community interest in the Palominas area so far this year, because of how the airstrip application went. Other reasons for it are all the new building in south Sierra Vista, with the city's support overall; and a general area plan that was prepared by some individuals in March. Brian Ulmer talked about the palominas.com website, mentioned in the last article. Since Apr. 13, mail here can be addressed to Palominas, as well as Hereford.
Brian and Susan Ulmer have not decided where to try to build another airstrip yet. Brian completes his program in aircraft maintenance technology at the Cochise College campus west of Douglas in October. Susan continues to work as a claims representative for an insurance company in Sierra Vista. Brian is still trying to obtain temporary work in Sierra Vista. This is leading them to consider sites more north and west in Cochise County like around Sierra Vista, rather than south and east as around Douglas.
Even with what experience he has had in flying, and what they knew about conditions along the border, Brian and Susan Ulmer would have had to have been very lucky to have had the airstrip work for them, and for the area here. As myself at this time, they may find that they may have to leave the area completely. May they find what they are searching for, wherever they go.
Muchas Gracias - ┐El Ultimo?
There are several media and people to thank, in the making of this issue. I just completed a certificate in the administration of computers in places that use the UNIX operating system instead of Windows; after all, 90% of computers use Windows, and maybe just 5% of computers use UNIX. The others are Apple Macintoshes, or big ones in large research facilities like the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Still, I must mention people who have helped me function here, so I could do this newsletter since 1996.
Besides on Elsa Benitez, material on Dick Tomey and Dennis Divver came from Tucson's NBC-TV station, KVOA (Channel 4). Material on Juan Covarrias, as well as Dick Tomey and Dennis Divver, came from the Arizona Daily Star and the Sierra Vista Herald.
Back in the first article, most material came from the Star and Herald. The picture of the tower in Nogales on the front page is my own. I have emailed a copy of it to Don Mabry, the history. professor at Mississippi State University who posted my translation of the Mexican Constitution on the Internet.
I thank Brian Ulmer for talking to me for the article on the airstrip. I wish him and his wife Susan well, whatever they do in the future.
The three people I now thank out here must all be unnamed, both for their safety after last fall's encounters with smugglers, and for their personal social preferences. Two have helped me keep functioning in my place since I came with them in 1995. 1 did not meet the third until 2 years ago. While none agree with me on everything, and have made that clear in ways they could, all have been very helpful as neighbors and friends.
However, I will mention Bob of Miracle Valley. He has done things with my trucks, and car until 1995, to keep them going, which I thought were not possible. I thought I had seen and heard of everything, in my 20 years of driving vehicles, and knowing people who did, before. He traded in auto parts in northwest Mexico for a few years before coming to the area. There are things he cannot, or still must not, discuss for his own sake. I do not agree with everything he says or does, but he has been very helpful with his views on Mexico and computers, as well as what he has done with vehicles.
Last, while I have done more research on it than anyplace else in the last 2 years, I do not worship the Internet, or people as at Microsoft with Bill Gates who have had the most to do with it. As I note that I have had it for less than 2 years, I must also note that I dealt with people in the old US West for almost a year to get it, and those people are still heavily involved with it as Qwest now. I am not the best person on high-tech things, but still I have been exposed to them more than most people, and there are things I would have designed on the Internet differently, had I been in a position to do so as Bill Gates. (There are many differences between Bill Gates and me, of course. One is that he was arrested for excessive speeding in Albuquerque in 1977, and taken to jail before he ran into anything, while I did not speed for long enough for anyone to stop me before I ran my car into a restaurant in Sierra Vista in 1995. 1 learned about Bill Gates from the Internet and a UNIX classmate.) Doug Snyder has put together a very good website: http://www.palorninas.com I notice that several people who talked negatively about the Internet before, now are listed as patrons of his site. I do not worship the Internet, but reality is that it is the only way I will have any chance to survive here in the future. I thank everyone who has helped us keep going since The Border Is Here first appeared in 1996. I look forward to working with both people I have met before, and people I have not, in the future. I do not know what I'll be doing in the next few months; it could be out of the area, close, but not here, here, or some combination of these. ┐Muchas gracias-posiblemente el ultimo?
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