Monday, October 03, 2005

Are the Minutemen Necessary?

As a resident of San Diego county, I've been concerned about illegal immigration for a while. I've been an avid backpaker and hiker in San Diego's backwoods, and there are only two real dangers: mountain lions and illegal aliens.

My own experience was much less severe than some I've read or heard about. One afternoon I was hiking through Horsethief Canyon when I almost ran into a group of about 8 illegals. They were tired and hungry and they wanted my food and water. Normally, I would have helped anyway - its rough country - but I was more inclined to do so at the point of a gun. After they left, continuing north inside the tree line, a quick call to the Border Patrol with current GPS coords was in order.

Regardless of the checks we put in place, these Mexico residents are still illegally entering the country in record numbers. Only a fraction of them get stopped by the thinly stretched Border Patrol, whom I happen to give more credit than some in this region will. But how much more traffic are we seeing, and how is it evidenced?

From the Union-Tribune:
From Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, the close of the 2005 federal fiscal year, 460 people are known to have died while trying to cross the border illegally. That far exceeds the previous record of 383 in fiscal 2000. The 2005 death toll also is expected to rise after final numbers are tallied, Border Patrol officials said.
The record death toll comes as the federal government has been repatriating people caught crossing illegally in southern Arizona to Mexico City to prevent them from crossing again. Approximately 20,300 people have been flown there since June 10 as part of an interior repatriation program that ended yesterday.

Rescues have also been on the rise: 2,569 migrants were rescued by Border Patrol agents in 2005 compared with 1,347 in fiscal 2004.
The San Diego sector, where apprehensions are down 9 percent from fiscal 2004, has one of the lowest death counts. Twenty-two deaths were recorded for 2005, only one of them heat-related.
Apprehensions are down in my neck of the woods, but traffic seems to be up in almost every other major inroad to the US, especially the Tucson, AZ area. With the Border Patrol next to powerless to do what they are chartered to do, the addition of citizen groups to the border areas to surveil and report activity is crucial, although some would have you believe otherwise.
Many of the hundreds who make up the self-appointed civilian patrols monitoring the border to deter smuggling of people and drugs are unemployed or underemployed ex-military men who have long resented Mexicans who come to the United States illegally and, in their view, compete for jobs, crowd hospitals and schools and threaten English as the nation's dominant language.
What media bias? There were some good quotes in that editiorial, however.

Wood acknowledged a lack of economic opportunity back home often drives illegal immigrants, but he was unsympathetic. "They're really poor, they have no skills, it's almost like Mexico just wants to unload its undesirables," he said.

Wood said he felt right at home with the Minutemen and plans to return when his schedule permits.

"I'll do it as long as it takes – until it's just as hard to get across the border as it is to get in through an airport," he said.

Maybe thats why the Mexican government pays for instructional pamphlets on how to illegally enter the US.