3/1/2005 - The Fight against Illegal Immigration Divides America
- View SourceThe Fight against Illegal Immigration Divides America
By Guillemette Faure
Tuesday 1 March 2005
United States: Some eleven thousand guards patrol the length of the country's border with Mexico, a true sieve. George W. Bush's plan, studied this year in Congress, seriously divides the Republicans. Talk about immigration in Washington does not follow the usual fracture lines of the political parties: Democrats are torn between humanitarian arguments and those of Labor Unions; Republicans are divided between pro-business lobbies that want the cheap labor and the Republican base that fears a "Hispanization" of the country. From Tucson.
At the fall of day, Robin Hoover's truck advances along the little road that goes from Tucson to Altar in Mexico. "At this moment, there," he says sweeping a hand over the desert valley lying between two saw-toothed mountain ranges, "there are certainly at least a thousand of them." The truck passes border patrol vehicles. The desert is still cool in February; it's the high season for illegals. Between the bushes and cholla cactus, sometimes you run across abandoned water jerricans or a ribbon around a tree signaling a rendezvous point with a coyote.
Robin Hoover stops a little further along to fill the big tanks he's installed along the illegals' route with water. A humanitarian gesture to some, complicity in illegal activity for others. More than 200 people were found dead last year along Arizona's border with Mexico. In the offices of Human Borders, the organization he heads, Robin Hoover has posted the "map of the dead" from previous years. Little colored dots indicate the cause of death for the bodies found south of Tucson. Most are red (heat) or yellow (cause unknown).
Robin Hoover is also pastor of the First Christian Church of Tucson. In the church's parking lot, some of his parishioners' cars still sport "John Kerry" stickers from last November. In his office, when Robin Hoover talks about President George W. Bush, "certainly not my president," he uses language that one has trouble imagining coming out of the mouth of a man of the Church. Nonetheless, he has also posted a sentence on his door: "We want our border patrols to apprehend con men, thieves, drug traffickers, and terrorists, not good-hearted people who come here to work." It is signed George W. Bush: he spoke the words at a press conference last December.
"It doesn't matter that I disagree with all his policies. On immigration, he's one of the few who have understood it all," he says about the American president. He hails his last proposal: putting in place a program of temporary visas given to illegal immigrants who can prove they have work.
"The one I'm angry with," continues this convinced Democrat, "is Bill Clinton." In 1994, the president launched "Operation Gatekeeper," reinforcing the resources of the border patrol. Ten years later, in spite of 11,000 guards patrolling the Southern border of the United States, illegal immigration has not declined. However, it has moved to the more porous spots, including the desert that separates Arizona from Mexico. Last year, close to 600,000 illegal immigrants were arrested along this section, four times more than in 1994, and more than in the three other states bordering Mexico (Texas, New Mexico, California) combined.
In everyone's opinion, it's this explosion that is responsible for the success of "Proposition 200," a proposed law put forward for referendum last November that imposes proof of legal residence in the United States in order to receive social benefits or to vote and that threatens officials who would close their eyes to its application with prison terms. Easily approved (56%), "Prop 200," with its constitutionality attacked, cannot yet be applied.
"A bad solution to a real problem," deems Chuck Blanchard, a lawyer coordinator for the "no" campaign. "The impact of the explosion of illegal immigration on life in Arizona, from schools and hospitals all the way to crime, cannot be denied." Even over 40% of Hispanics approved the proposition. "Something had to be done," explains Jenny, 54 years old, with Mexican grandparents and family still living on the other side of the border, who acknowledges that it was a "protest vote." Nothing surprising about that to Chuck Blanchard: "It's the Hispanics who live here who suffer the worst consequences of the traffic in illegals, especially the rise in the crime rate."
Kathy McKee rejoices. A militant for "Proposition 200," who had founded Protect Arizona Now, she's now launching Protect America Now to encourage other states to follow the voices in favor of toughening up. Elsewhere, as in Colorado or Utah, groups try to have similar laws voted in. "We have to recall our troops who are deployed around the world and post them on the two borders," she explains very seriously. She would like to see "50,000 soldiers on the Mexican border and 50,000 on the Canadian border." The traitors in her eyes: the American government, which "rolls out the red carpet for illegals." If "Proposition 200" was approved by a majority in Arizona, not one of its Senators or Representatives in the state's delegation to Congress supported it. "Unquestionably because they got a call from the White House," rails Kathy McKee.
When he was still governor of Texas, Bush asserted when California voted in favor of a similar text ("Proposition 187") that nothing like it would happen in Texas as long as he was governor. At the moment, he repeats that "the defense of family values doesn't stop at the Rio Grande." A Texan governor popular with Hispanics, he gained nine points between the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 among this traditionally Democratic population.
"If there's anything I've understood as far as immigration is concerned, it's that you can tell me where someone lives and what their party affiliation is, but I can't deduce his position on immigration from that," summarizes Pastor Robin Hoover.
Translation: t r u t h o u t French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.
Subscribe to June2005WARonIRAN Powered by groups.yahoo.comThe government and the NEWS should reflect, not determine, the desires of the people.The news is to be reported not to sway opinion. Stop the melodrama and constant trivia on news time. The founding fathers knew that government is always corrupt, that is why they gave us civil liberties. The people must lead to survive corrupt governments. Read the constitution. (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this includes information for research and educational purposes.) Al Soto (c) 2005
Celebrate Yahoo!'s 10th Birthday!
Yahoo! Netrospective: 100 Moments of the Web