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ERIC THING and Associates retraced Coronado's trail along the San Pedro River, dressed as the Expedition would have dressed.


Crossing into the US from Mexico at this spot in the San Rafael Valley, the Franciscan friar FRAY MARCUS de NIZA with his Moorish guide, Estevan, entered from Mexico at this spot in Arizona’s San Rafael Valley, where this concrete cross stands as a memorial of decades of Spanish rule in North America which was followed by a “tidal wave of white men”. De Niza’s journey ended South West prehistory and marked the beginning of written history.

Beside this dusty dirt road only a short distance north from Lochiel, Az, stands the 20 foot cross with a metal plaque that proclaims “On this spot FRAY MARCUS de NIZA entered this Valley of San Rafael, as Commissary of the Franciscan Order and a Delegate of the Viceroy of Mexico, de Niza entered Arizona the first European west of the Rockies on April 12, 1539. Here began the friar’s historic journey to explore the American Southwest, his journey ignited a decade of searching by conquistadors for the gold and riches they hoped to exist in the legendary “Seven Cities of Cibola”.[caption id="attachment_5114" align="aligncenter" width="950"]Marks de Niza Entry Marks de Niza Entry

Spain’s journey into Arizona and New Mexico was controversial then and remains controversial today. Some researchers argue de Niza never made his journey, he only pretended to have seen New Mexico. Some historians say de Niza faked the report in conspiracy with Viceroy Mendoza to encourage the conquest of the North. The friar’s trip did set off a contest between the governor of Cuba and Viceroy Mendoza Governor of New Spain, both sent their champions, Conquistadors Coronado and De Soto were chosen, edging out others, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado went through Arizona and Hernando de De Soto landed in Florida, both sought to find untold riches and make them all rich.

Ironically, at the time of the march to Cibola (Zuni N.M.) and Quivira (Kansas) in 1541, Hernando de Soto’s army was probing west from Florida. In May of 1541, at the same time Coronado was in Texas and starting north to Kansas, de Soto was crossing to the west bank of the Mississippi River. The armies may have passed within some hundreds of miles of each other. While Coronado was in Kansas and marching back to the Albuquerque area, De Soto was probing west of the Mississippi, where he died on the Red River in April of 1542. If the two armies had met up, they might have considered their expeditions more successful.





De Niza’s visit to Arizona’s opened the door for Spanish exploration that defined the size, the people and the nature of today’s American West. FRAY MARCUS de NIZA, found himself about 15 miles east of what is today’s Nogales, Arizona and Sonora as their horses picked their trail through the rich Arizona grasslands. De Niza was guided by Estevan, an Moor slave who had survived the same decade of slavery and walking through Texas to Mexico after being ship-wrecked off the Florida coast with the Spanish mariner named Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca who reported to the Viceroy of Mexico the riches of Cibola. The Viceroy sent the Friar de Niza and Estevan to learn the truth about “Cibola”, was it made from gold or wasn’t it? Estevan knew from his travels the Indian of the time perceived “Cibola” as the “greatest thing in the world”, so-the servant said. Survival had taught him how to excite the average Indian village, the large charismatic black man who wore tinkers and led a large entourage of slaves and women whom he had collected. Estevan had learned it was better to be the point of the spear ahead of the main expedition finding water and probing their path for guides and information, rather than playing the role of a slave. Estevan was charged to send back runners with crosses, if news was promising about riches ahead send a big cross, he had been told, if chances were poor, then send a small cross. Estevan decided to promote his own agenda sending back crosses that got progressively larger. Estevan was the original Kokopelli, he captivated the locals, wowed the maidens, had a few and moved on to the next village before the larger expedition arrived.


De Niza, upon his first return to Mexico City from Cibola, he had reported finding “good and prosperous lands” others soon twisted that translation into a new land of riches, equal to the wealth of gold, silver and gemstones, taken from the Aztec and Inca civilizations of Mexico and South America. Cibola was soon thought to be where “trees hung with golden bells and people whose pots and pans were beaten gold”, so with that promise of riches, finding soldiers and patrons to fund the journey became easy, everyone wanted a piece of the action. De Niza’s companion Estevan de Dorantes was killed at Cíbola, as de Niza watched from afar, but from that range the friar affirmed that the “grand city” report was true. The Friar’s report had inspired Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to make his famous expedition to Zuni Pueblo, using Fray Marcos as his guide; their journey had many hardships: thirst and hunger, many died and most were left penny-less. So it’s an understatement the expedition had a great disappointment, when they had finally saw Cibola for themselves, Coronado then sent Friar de Niza back to Mexico City for his own protection. Fray Marcos returned in shame and became the provincial superior of his order in Mexico and performed the highest office of the Franciscans Order in Mexico before dying in 1558.

In “Cities of Gold” by Doug Preston 1992 Simon/Schuster narrates the rich history of the American South West as the author retraces the Route of Coronado from the US-Mexico Border through a very rugged Arizona and into a waterless New Mexico. Preston and with his cowboy/photographer/artist/sidekick, Walter, with four horses found the trip, life-imperiling as well as life-changing. Another author, Paul Wellman wrote in his book; “Glory, God and Gold” that “Every Spaniard in the expedition” he wrote “would plunge his arms elbow-deep in gold ingots before he returned,” that’s why not a peso came from the King and each participant paid what they could. Captains paid $55,000 pesos, average guys paid $35,000 pesos and Coronado himself paid $85,000 pesos, taking a loan out on his wife’s estate. In preparation for this journey, Coronado had taken seven slaves four men and three women, others took their wives, children and companions.

Scholars say there were 2,000 in the expedition, with 67 plus European soldiers-45 fellas carried European metal helmets, 1300 natives were from central and western Mexico, some were servants, wranglers and herdsmen so writes Richard Flint in the Kiva article entitled “What they never told you about the Coronado Expedition”. He points out there were 19 crossbow, 25 arquebusiers and additional slaves to tend the 1,000 extra horses, 500 head of cattle, and more than 5,000 sheep was taken to feed the expedition. These folks were not trailblazers-they followed well established paths, each village they passed they would enlist guides to lead the way to the next water hole, to make introductions at the next village and to show the Spanish the road to the Seven Cities of Gold.

The beginning of History in the American West arrived with the Spanish exploration of the American South West.

Just a few years earlier the chosen champion of the Cuban governor, Conquistador Hernando de Soto, who learned the Indian slave trade in South America. There the Spanish looted temples and ransacked graves for their mortuary offerings. Finally De Soto captured the Inca emperor who offered him a room 22′ by 17′ stacked 9′ to the ceiling with gold ornaments, vases, goblets and statues plus another smaller room filled twice over with silver for his freedom. De Soto accepted the gold and silver treasure, still killed the king and soon returned to Spain and became a favorite in the King’s court to whom he loaned money and soon was given the license to explore Florida. In return the King was to receive “one-fifth of all spoils of battle, one-fifth of any precious metal taken from the ground and one-tenth of everything taken from graves. De Soto was to finance the entire expedition, at its end he would received 50,000 acres of his choice and an annual salary of $60,000, in return he would pacify all the natives, and provide the necessary priests and friars needed to convert them.

DESOTO; Followed the footsteps of his heroes, Balboa and Ponce de Leon….

CORONADO: Freely joined the chase for gold and riches ….

Meanwhile in Mexico, Viceroy Mendoza ordered 29 year old Francisco Vazques de Coronado to explore “Nuevo Tierra” and to bring back all the treasure he discovers.


Once reaching Zuni, groups broke off one went to the Hopi Villages, another to the Grand Canyon and another to the Rio Grande Valley to claim those lands for the Spanish empire. One group of explorers pushed on to the Colorado River hoping to be re-supplied by ship but they found a note saying their supplies had come and gone. Sore, sick, hungry, constantly looking for water and upset by the lack of riches, Coronado strayed farther eastward with dreams of another unconquered province named Quivera. His expedition went through the plains of Kansas past today’s Liberal Kansas, in hopes of finding yet another Aztec Civilization rich with gold and silver. The Spanish told themselves they had come to North America “to serve God and His King, to give light to those who were in darkness and to grow rich, as all men desire to do”. Hernando de Soto, and the Mendoza expedition led by Coronado, beat out several other conquistadors: Cortes, Beltran de Guzman and Pedro de Alvarado, all of whom wished to establish lives of “ease and honor” by “performing feats of war”. De Soto and Coronado motivated the native Indian along their way to join them, many did, they hoped to take prisoners for themselves, and to become slave holders. Everyone had an angle how this journey was going to make them rich. The conquistadors were tough, disciplined and ruthless, their weapons outmatched the stone age weapons of the Indians who were no match against European arms and tactics.

The native Americans believed the Spanish horses were supernatural creatures.

But it was the horses that carried the battle every time in the today’s West, rock art and intaglio exist that document the first meeting of the horse with North American Indians. In Mexico and South America the Aztec and Inca had fought in formation and were outclassed by the warriors of Europe, but the native Americans of the north soon learned stealth and avoided open combat. Their skilled archers could drive an arrow through armor. the crossbow and musket proved useless while the sword, lance and infantry was very deadly in close combat.

This rock art in southern Utah commemorates the first time the two meet.

This rock art in southern Utah commemorates the first time the indian and the horse meet.

So eighty years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Spanish Explorers visited Kansas: Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, seeking gold in New Mexico, was told of Quivera where “people’s pots and pans were beaten gold”. With 30 picked horsemen and a Franciscan Friar, Coronado marched “north by the needle” from the Texas panhandle until he reached Kansas. Here he found no gold, but a country he described as “the best I have ever seen for producing all the products of Spain.” The expedition entered present Kansas near Liberal and moved northeastward across the Arkansas River to what is now Rice and McPherson counties perhaps probing to present day Lawrence near the Kansas River before turning back. The guide, they called the Turk, confessed he had deceived the Spaniards and one night he went into his tent and the next morning when they broke camp he left only a dirt mound. He was strangled, buried and forgotten. For 25 days in the summer of 1541 the Turk had led Coronado among the grass-hut villages of the Quivira Indians, hoping to lose Coronado and men in the tall grass and waterless plains.
PECOS PUEBLO stood at the Cross Roads of the Great Plains and the Rio Grande Pueblo Communities.

PECOS PUEBLO stood at the Cross Roads of the Great Plains and the Rio Grande Pueblo Communities.

After this month spent exploring central Kansas, the expedition disappointed in their quest for riches were still impressed by the land itself. Coronado’s Lieutenant Juan Jaramillo, wrote: “It is a hilly country, but has table-lands, plains, and charming rivers… I am of the belief that it will be very productive of all sorts of commodities. According to legend, Seymour Rogers, the first settler in the mid-1880’s, was said to have been “mighty liberal” with water from his well, from that came the name Liberal Kansas established in 1888, on the northwest border of Texas.

Statue of the Conquistador Coronado stands next to a traffic circle in Liberal, Kansas near where the Spanish entered from Texas. JOHN MADSEN, BELOW


In August 2004, they launched the Coronado Project, which expanded on John Madsen’s idea of asking local residents to help solve the mystery of the expedition’s route. With the assistance of Don Burgess—a former general manager of Tucson’s Public Broadcasting System television station—this outreach and public education project involved the creation of a video on the Coronado Expedition and mailed, free of charge, to hundreds of local residents; a series of public lectures; and four Coronado Roadshows in Wilcox and Springerville, Arizona and also in Lordsburg and Reserve, New Mexico.

The exact route that the Coronado Expedition took between Sonora and the Zuni Pueblos is currently unknown writes John Madsen, curator at the Arizona State Museum. He writes some have surmised that the trail led through Arizona, as far west as the Casa Grande Ruin, before turning northeast into the White Mountains region. Others, like historian Herbert E. Bolton, suggest a route along the San Pedro River, turning northeast below Benson, crossing the Gila River near Bylas, and passing near White River and Springerville before descending into the Zuni region. Madsen prefers the path similar to that proposed by archaeologist Carroll Riley. It traverses the country on what is now the Arizona–New Mexico state line, following the San Francisco River. Spanish accounts as early as 1747 reveal considerable use of the drainage by Zunis and Apaches. In 1795, Sonorans viewed the San Francisco River area as a potential trade route linking them with the Pueblo of Zuni and Santa Fe area pueblos like Pecos and Taos Pueblos.

Madsen teamed up with a Public Broadcast Station and launched a search for clues of where the Spanish had been targeting areas along their suspected route. Many historians and archaeologists along the route have tackled their piece of the mystery, many adding to the research, Madsen “had a hunch that the best source of information would come from the ranching communities along the Arizona–New Mexico border. These people know the land, and generations of family members have covered most of this dirt on horseback. The end result were 33 Spanish colonial period or Mexican historic artifacts like period spurs, coins, and horseshoes. Chain mail was take from a site in Kansas….more clues appeared.

Hartmann Map for Tracking the Expedition’s Route: Sleuthing for Clues and Artifacts

For over 100 years, the exact route of Coronado has been an American mystery. Generations of scholars have tried to retrace the steps of the army from their descriptions of villages, rivers, mountains, and native communities. National commissions have grappled with the problem of designating a “Coronado Trail” that tourists could follow, but clues were sparse, and politics raised its head when various factions tried to claim parts of the route for their state. Because we don’t know just where they were, it is tantalizingly hard to interpret the Coronado chronicles’ descriptions of native villages and other sites they visited.


In our lifetimes, many potential Coronado sites are being destroyed by urban growth, vandalism, and plowing of fields for agriculture. However, if amateur sleuths report possible Spanish artifacts, it may still be possible to locate more of Coronado’s campsites and document exactly where the army went. Recent discoveries have found Coronado campsites near Albuquerque and another in the Texas panhandle at Blanco Canyon both help to pin down the expedition’s route. See the web page on helping scholars locate Coronado sites….

Archaeologists William K.Hartmann, his wife Gayle and Richard Flint have worked tirelessly to sleuth out the route of the Coronado Expedition being guided by de Niza who the year before had seen Cibola from a distance. They found he might have followed the Rio Sonora to the river’s headwaters and then crossed the Cananea grasslands for four days past Arizape picking up the San Pedro River North turning east toward the Wilcox Playa North past present day Safford or the present day Sulfur Springs Valley crossing the Gila River cresting the Mogollon Rim past Point of Pines. William and Gayle Hartmann sees them moving east from the San Pedro, stopping at Turkey Creek in the Chiricahua’s then moving east through Apache Pass via Portal and into New Mexico and eventually into Texas. For more explanation visit their website….http://www.psi.edu/epo/coronado/coronadosjourney.html


The most exciting development is the apparent discovery of the long lost Coronado camp site at the Chichilticale New Mexican exploration geologist Nugent Brasher devoted several years to this problem. With brilliant deduction, mapping, and hard work, he began metal detecting surveys at several water-source sites he reported finding an iron cross bow point and other possible fragments from the Kuykendall ruin, a large pueblo ruin site at the foot of the Chiricahuas. The site appears definitely to be a the first Coronado camp site known in Arizona, and almost certainly is the Chichilticale ruin.

• ONGOING EXCAVATIONS AT CHICHILTICALE Brasher has set up a web site at www.chichilticale.com to record progress with the survey and excavations at the Chichilticale site. Excavations are continuing by Brasher and archaeologist Deni Seymour. Two more cross bow bolt heads have been shown on her web site that details excavation plans and progress, at http://www.seymourharlan.com/default.htm

• NEW BOOK FROM RICHARD FLINT In 2008, Richard Flint published a popular-level account of the expedition, “No Settlement No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada,” a book that bids to replace Herbert Bolton’s volume as the best general account of the expedition.
• NEW BOOK FROM TONY HORWITZ In 2008, also, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist/writer Tony Horwitz dealt with the Coronado expedition as a major section of his book “A Voyage Long and Strange,” which is an account of the explorations in North America before the 1700s, adjusting and correcting some of the mythic tales that most American children learn about the initial European explorations of our continent.


Picked up by a local rancher In the 1960s and Little known for years, the Floydada gauntlet and some newly-found associated artifacts, such as odd-shaped metal arrow points, have recently been recognized as priceless relics of the Coronado army expedition.


KIVA The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva: The 1540–1542 Route across the Southwest by Richard Flint; Shirley Cushing Flint

The Route of Cabeza de Vaca Author(s):James Newton Baskett The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association
The Hopi Mesa have long offered protection from raiders and nosy outsiders. Today HOPI wants to guard against any further erosion of their culture.

HOPI WOMEN have been making the ceremonial PIKI Bread for centuries in a special cooking space behind the main house

HOPI WOMEN have been making the ceremonial PIKI Bread for centuries in a special cooking space behind the main house

HOPI WEAVER displays 300 year old Sukua


Cultures, old as time, were attacked as pagan by the Catholic priests who accompanied the Conquistadors and who blessed their cruel attacks, in the name of saving pagan souls. The vanquished Indian was used as slaves, sold, slain or simply worked to death. The Cross, the symbol the Spanish brought the Indian and who adopted it, as pagans you can always use another God. Finally, the Spanish opened the West, the Conquistadors began the mapping of the West which became the United States of America’s quest for it’s “manifest destiny”. The American Indian, time and time again found himself in the way of the white man’s greed, the white men attacked the first Americans stealing their lands, their game and their lives, their homes, eventually they stole their children!

The facts show the journey of FRAY MARCUS de NIZA, a man of God, began an “era of extermination”, a period when approximately 20 million Indians inhabited this territory before the Conquest, and after just one century of Spanish rule there were only 1 million left! Many vanquished by Old World diseases brought to the New World with Europeans. The epidemics that broke out as well as the merciless workload imposed on the Indian dramatically diminished the Indian population. The scope of the epidemics over the years was tremendous, killing millions of people—in excess of 90% of the population in the hardest hit areas—and creating one of “the greatest human catastrophe in history, the most devastating disease was smallpox, but other deadly diseases included typhus, measles, influenza, bubonic plague, cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, mumps, yellow fever, and pertussis (whooping cough). The Americas also had a number of local diseases, such as tuberculosis and a type of syphilis, which soon went viral when taken back to the Old World.

“The moving multitude…darkened the whole plains,” wrote Lewis and Clark, who encountered a buffalo herd at South Dakota’s White River in 1806. With westward expansion of the American frontier, systematic reduction of the plains herds had began around 1830, when buffalo hunting became the chief industry of the plains, organized hunters killed buffalo for hides and meat, often killing 250 a day.

The White Man also almost exterminated the American Buffalo, herds said to be 20 miles wide and 20 miles deep, roaming the valleys they have always grazed, only a few small herds survive today. At that time, some white men sought to eradicate the buffalo to take away the Indian’s livelihood and well-being. Native American tribes depended on the buffalo’s meat and hides, and many still today believe the animal has special spiritual and healing powers, making it an important part of their culture. The railroads laying track across the plains further depleted the buffalo, as well as the Indian’s hunting grounds because hunting from train windows was widely advertised and passengers shot buffalo as they raced beside the trains. By 1883 both the northern and the southern herds had been destroyed. Less than 300 wild animals remained in the U.S. and Canada by the turn of the century out of the 30 to 75 million that was once thought to live there.

The Navajo “Long Walk” was the 1864 forced-deportation and some say attempted ethnic cleansing of the Navajo by the U.S. Government notes Wikipedia. The Navajos were forced to walk at gunpoint from their Arizona reservation to eastern New Mexico. Some 53 different forced marches occurred between August 1864 and the end of 1866. The “Trail of Tears” is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States Many of re-settled Indians suffered from exposure, disease and starvation on the way, many died, including 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee. By 1837, 46,000 Native Americans from southeastern states had been removed from their homelands opening 25 million acres for predominantly white settlement.




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Following the shooting death of Robert Krentz along the US-Mexico Border residents ask government to protect their families, friends and homes.

US-Mexico Border Security in the 1970s was the key in Father Lambert Frembling’s pocket, it opened Mexico from the US and it opened the US from Mexico, it was the typical swinging gate for which US Customs had given him a key to the lock so he could shuttle between his flock as he held mass, funerals, baptisms and wedding in the small Tohono Oodham villages and outlaying chapels. Some of these small chapels were first started by Padre Kino or the early Spanish but today many are on Tohono O’odham Land that spans both sides of the US-Mexico Border.

Spent his life ministering to the Tohono O’odham on both sides of the US-Mexico Border.

The beloved German-born Catholic priest had stopped in Pisinemo on his way to California and he never left! Today Star Wars virtual sentries have been installed to monitor for crossers. Ground sensors, trackers on horseback, overhead drones, helicopters, planes, satellites all fly by, game cameras on popular trails beam up images to satellites who download to Fort Huachuca. The Tethered Aerostat Radar System, or TARS, uses the Aerostat as a stationary airborne platform for a surveillance radar, the system is capable of detecting low altitude aircraft at the radar’s maximum range by mitigating curvature of the earth and terrain masking limitations. TARS provides a detection and monitoring capability along the United States-Mexico border, the Florida Straits, and a portion of the Caribbean in support of the Department of Defense Counterdrug Program.

The Tethered Aerostat Radar uses the aerostat as a stationary airborne platform for surveillance.

The Eye-in-the-Sky peeking over the mountains from Fort Huachuca made famous by chasing Geronimo into Mexico, today Aerostat can see over the horizon and it is constantly getting better. In spite of early, expensive virtual fence ($1 Billion wasted) failures (the fence-ware couldn’t see the difference between a crosser and a wind-blown bush) and if it did see someone, it didn’t know who to call. As a public relations tool HomeLand Security now has placed a (1-877-USBP-HELP) phone number on the back of all new HomeLand Secuirty vehicles.

The Lochiel Arizona crossing was closed in 1983 due to budget retraints.

Back in the day the US-Mexico Border was four strains of barbed wire and with some artfully poured concrete markers. In those days, ranchers dropped the fence to work their land and fields, places like Lochiel, Arizona where the San Rafael Valley links to Mexico, pioneering families like the De La Ossa Family who settled on the line between the two countries around 1886.

Vehicles with visas or Sonoran plates could access the area east of Nogales without going to Nogales first.

For decades the Naco, Az gate was this low tech relic of the 20th Century, since the National Border Industrial Complex has become fully engaged, billions of dollars have changed everything about the US-Mexico Border. At the new Naco Border Patrol Station numerous agents watch monitors showing folks in the darken rooms who and what is hanging out on the Border. If you drive past one, be friendly and wave.

The De La Ossa pioneer family settled on the US-Mexico Border from Spain and for generations they have ranched on both sides of the fence.

East of Nogales, AZ the Lochiel Gate was open from 10am to 4pm daily during the 1970-80’s allowing residents of Santa Cruz (headwaters of the river) Sonora access to the US and hospitals without going to Nogales first and then crossing.

Over the decades settlers found the sleepy valley nirvana, they even had their own border gate that was open daily and their children wandered into the U.S. every day to attend their one-room school and then walked 200 yards back home to Mexico but the gate was closed in 1983 due to budget constraints. Today the US-Mexico Border is an armed camp.

MEXICO-US BORDER FENCE runs east from Lochiel and served as a geological border and each evening this fence was often cut and penetrated at will by smugglers, mules (men carrying backpacks of contraband) and coyotes (guides who escort undocumented crossers and either deliver their cargo or dump them in the desert.

Today it has been militarized and stands as an armed barrier which inspects every vehicle that enters or exits the United States. Smuggling has always existed and folks who grew up along the border, they know the people who profit on both sides of the border, they grew up with them. But in recent years Mexican Drug Cartels have militarized their approach to smuggling by hiring ex-military elite, who have trained load bearing drug smugglers to walk with a shotgun backing them up to negotiate any

First time I crossed at the Sasabe, I drove past the small shack on the US side and as I approached the Mexican one-room entry post I heard gun shots. Ahead of me standing in the entry lane my Mexican border agent was target-practicing while on duty. But as I approached he holstered his pistol and reloaded as I departed. On the US side, the small shack is now this lovely compound with all the 21st century Customs technology.

difficulties incurred along the way. Border bandits have been always a huge issue, ruthless people who prey upon anyone who comes along, robbing folks of whatever cash they carry, rape and kidnapping has always been a risk. The Zeta shotgun always cuts through that red tape. In recent years, cartels have created their own trails walking mountain ridges skirting around ground senors laid out there and go around all the boots now on the ground there. Many tools have been deployed by Homeland Security who spent millions on border surveillance systems that were set off by the movement of animals, trains and wind. Driving the Sasabe stretch of the border where the virtual fence employs silent sentinels to watch your every move I met a deer hunter who has hunted those same canyons for the past dozen years and usually hides in his blind and waits for his deer. In the past, from his blind he often watched as between 100-150 illegal crossers daily walked into the U.S. and just keep going… but not today. When I meet him he had been out three days and had not seen a soul.

The US National Guard takes a forward operating position on Coronado Peak to Monitor smuggling routes to the east and illegal immigration toward the west. “They know we are here, says one Guard member, “we’re just a deterrent !” “They pay me $5000 a month to sit on a rock, for that kinda money I can do that all year-long.”


This virtual fence watches more than 50 miles east and west of Sasabe, AZ

If the new virtual fence doesn’t work! It is a well kept secret in Mexico. One additional deterrent, the National Guard, has established forward operating positions to monitor smuggling and crossing trails and at least in the remote Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, the Altar Valley which is encircled by seven mountain ranges, is the only place in the United States where the Sonoran-savanna grasslands that once spread over the entire region can still be seen. The fragile ecosystem was almost completely destroyed by overgrazing, and a program to restore native grasses is currently in progress. In 1985 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the Buenos Aires Ranch—now headquarters for the 115,000-acre preserve—to establish a reintroduction program for the endangered masked bobwhite quail. At the same time Border crossers and smugglers were moving large groups of crossers who would begin their journey from the village of Altar, Sonora across the flat, friendly, grasslands and into the U.S. where their endless foot traffic was crushing the fragile habitat where bird-watchers considered Buenos Aires unique because it’s the only place in the United States where they can see a “grand slam” (four species) of quail: Montezuma quail, Gambel’s quail, scaled quail, and masked bobwhite. Unlike quail, however, undocumented border crosser are usually unseen keeping to themselves and hoofing it to their destinations and seldom bothering the ranchers and residents who have chosen to live along the line between two countries. In 1976, three Mexicans were tortured and robbed after they illegally crossed a ranchers land to look for work in the U.S..

Tucson’s Tom Miller has written about Life along the U.S. Border for more than 30 years. Miller, a veteran of the underground press of the 1960s, has appeared in Smithsonian, The New Yorker, LIFE, The New York Times, Natural History, and many other publications. He wrote the introduction to Best Travel Writing – 2005, and has led educational tours through Cuba for the National Geographic Society and other organizations. His collection of some eighty versions of “La Bamba” led to his Rhino Records release, “The Best of La Bamba.” His book On the Border has been optioned by Productvision for a theatrical film.

“All right, you fucking wetbacks. You’re not going anywhere.” The gringos built a mesquite fire near the naked migrants, burning their clothes and sacks of food while threatening and taunting the men. “Let’s see if your Virgin of Guadalupe can help you now,” George Hanigan sneered. One of the Hanigan boys pulled a long iron out of the fire and dangled its hot end over the naked men’s bodies. The other young Hanigan allegedly took it from him and touched it to one of the men’s feet, again and again, until the stink of burning flesh mingled with the mesquite. The old man grabbed a knife and threatened to cut off one of the men’s testicles. One of the men had a rope tied around his neck and was dragged through the scorching desert sand. “When they’d had their fun,” recalls long-time community activist Max Torres, “they cut them free one at a time, pointing them to Mexico and opening fire with birdshot.” One of the men ended up with a back full of 47 pellets; another had 125. Brothers Tom and Pat Hanigan were arrested and charged with 11 counts in the kidnapping and torture. Both ranchers were acquitted by an all-white jury in Cochise County Superior Court but then later indicted in federal court, and eventually, one was convicted and the other acquitted. Racism is not their friend and most fear everyone they meet because they have no idea who they can trust. For the next two decades, vigilantism broke out sporadically in Southeast Arizona. In 1980, a local rancher captured and chained a 16-year-old Mexican immigrant by the neck to an outhouse toilet, torturing and starving him for four days. More recently, militia have taken positions on the border, capturing those crossers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, having their fun, and passing them along to Border Patrol when they were done. Today, the state of Arizona, has now the clout to field a militia to backup law enforcement and utube shows at numerous groups working independently of the state of Arizona. One is out of California, another hails from Cochise County and another can be found in Scottsdale, Arizona-in a state whose legislature passed the controversial SB10-70 “show your papers law” and that recently tossed the Mexican-American Studies Program out of Tucson high schools. For decades, folks I met living on the line often reported hearing noise in the night, perhaps a water faucet was taped to top off the tradition gallon water jug carried by most border crossers. Some might come to the back door and ask for food, many residents said they helped, others say they reported the visit, most didn’t because they found these folks to be honest hard-working people down on their luck in a land they didn’t understand.

After the shooting ranchers and residents of the four corners region of Southeast Arizona, Southwest New Mexico, and the Mexican States of Sonora and Chichuahua meet at the Apache, Arizona one room school house after Congress women Gabby Giffords brought in media from Tucson, Phoenix and the New York Times to hear the needs and concerns of these folk living on the Border. Before the meeting, everyone bowed their heads and paid tribute to their dead friend and fellow rancher Robert Krentz, who like themselves, had tried to make the best of this difficult situation and Krentz and his dog died trying.

Many residents complained to the Border Patrol that they had called and called, reported and reported and no one ever came. Congress Women Gabbie Giffords (far right) brought in media from Tucson and Phoenix “what good is Homeland Security if no one ever shows up when you need them”? Customs vehicles now carry this phone number 1-877-USBP-HELP painted on the back of all vehicles.

On Saturday, March 27th, 2010 the body of Robert Krentz, a longtime rancher, was found on his property near the border with Mexico on Saturday, March 27, 2010. Krentz and his dog were gunned down shortly after he reported spotting someone who appeared to be in trouble.


Foot tracks were followed from the shooting scene about 20 miles south, to the Mexico border, and authorities suspect an illegal immigrant. The killing of the third-generation rancher has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate as politicians cite the episode as further proof that the U.S. must do more to secure the violent U.S.-Mexico border.

Today smugglers have moved off the flats and into the rugged mountain ranges where smugglers now carry their large backpacks and the crossers have moved further west onto the Tohono Oodham Reservation where the desert is less hospitable and where many unprepared for the desert have perished. Homeland Security has now deported more people this year than any year in the past decade. Homeland detained 212,000 in 2010, 120,000 in 2011 and less than 100,000 is expected to be picked up and detained in 2012. Death from failed summer crossing have dropped from 212 in July, 2010, 138 were reported in 2011 and in 2012 the numbers continues to drop but the proportion of those dying trying to cross into the U.S. continue to increase because of the increased difficulty. Border deaths were sparse throughout the 1990s. But in 2000, the numbers jumped drastically, increased border enforcement in California has moved migration routes east into some of Arizona’s most remote and inhospitable terrain. Unusually hot weather, even by Arizona standards, also may be contributing to the large number of deaths this year. Some migrants try to time their journeys to the summer monsoon season with its cooling rains, Kat Rodriguez told the Huffington Post. Rodriguez works with the human rights group Coalicion de Derechos Humanos who supply water stations in the desert to keep crossers alive who lack enough water to survive their journey. “The border experience 10 years ago is completely different than now,” Rodriguez said. (Today) “It’s brutal and ruthless.”

Total border deaths by calendar year: 2001: 77…..2002: 147…..2003: 196…..2004: 219…..2005: 246…..2006: 224…..2007: 250…….2008: 190….2009: 224…..2010: 249…..2011: 182

The 182 bodies of illegal border crossers recovered in fiscal year 2011 from New Mexico to Yuma County (the area within the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector) are the fewest since fiscal 2002 when 147 bodies were found, indicates the Arizona Daily Star’s border death database.

WATER STATIONS are a political hot potato along the US-Mexico Borderlands but volunteers backing up southwest humanitarian groups walk a fine line helping out undocumented crossers and some have been arrested for their troubles. photo by Francisco Medina

Conservative critics of the water stations maintained by Tucson-based Coalicion de Derechos Humanos say the water stations enable “successful crossings” instead of “unsuccessful border crossings” where crossers are either picked up or turn themselves in to avoid death, or die in the desert. Conservatives say knowing the water is there encourage crossers to attempt the journey and without water stations–fewer people would attempt to cross the border–their deaths are their fault for trying and a deterrent to others attempting the trip. Some say many who cross have no idea of what lies before them, many are from the jungles of southern Mexico and South America, and have never seen a desert, let alone, crossed one.

Customs helicopter tracked these crossers, called in ground support and all where taken to holding pins where they await buses to take them back to the border.

Three Border Patrol agents guide 78 illegal immigrants through the desert near Arivaca after they were found when helicopter pilots followed fresh tire tracks to trees in wash where they were hiding. PHOTOS BY GARY GAYNOR

As the U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to secure the border, the number of border crossings has declined dramatically in the last five years, the number of deaths has not decreased at the same pace. Human rights organizations say the increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border and the absence of government policy addressing the motivations that prompt migrants to cross, despite the dangers. “We never thought that we’d be in the business of helping to identify remains like in a war zone, and here we are,” said Isabel Garcia, co-chair and founder of the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos. While the precise number of individuals crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization is impossible to tally, Border Patrol’s apprehensions and death data offer the most accurate picture available. Each year the Border Patrol reports the number of bodies found along the Southwest border and the number of migrants that agents bring into custody. In 2011, 327,577 migrants attempted to cross the border illegally, down from 858,638 in 2007 — a nearly 62 percent drop. A close look at the numbers reveals that illegal border traffic has slowed and deaths have slightly declined, but the proportion of people dying in an attempt to cross has continued to rise. With no official record-keeping system, the exact number of illegal border crossers who died along Arizona’s stretch of U.S.-Mexican border will never be known. In the summer of 2004, the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson started compiling border deaths recorded by Pima, Cochise and Yuma County medical examiners in an effort to present an accurate tally of the numbers of people who die coming into the United States illegally through Southern Arizona. The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office handles bodies found in Santa Cruz and Pinal Counties as well.

To report somebody who is missing who tried crossing the border through Arizona or for help trying to locate them, contact:
• Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office: 520-243-8600
• Mexican Consulate Call Center: 1-877-632-6678
• Coalición de Derechos Humanos: 520-770-1373
• National Missing and Unidentified Persons System website: http://www.namus.gov

This new wall was suck almost 10′ under ground to deter tunneling. With two months following its completion. Customs found two tunnels to parking spots on the US side, the driver of a car with a false bottom would park and go to lunch and when he returned. He had a fresh load of contraband for the drive home.

Traffic awaits their turn at customs at the DeConcini Border Crossing…

Even after he said it twice, Arizona Senator Lori Klein still insists “Joe the Plumber”– a.k.a. Sam Wurzelbacher — was “joking” about shooting people who illegally cross the U.S./Mexico border.”Put troops on the border, start shootin’;

Sam Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber

I bet that solves our illegal immigration problem real quick,” he said at a rally for Klein’s campaign. “It’s not because I’m blood-thirsty; it’s not because I want to kill illegal — illegal — immigrants. It’s because I want my border secure, that’s all it comes down to” said the conservative pundit made famous by Arizona’s Senator John McCain who believe his Arizona border is open and recently offered a 10 point plan to stop illegal traffic.

McCain has a 10 Point Plan to secure the southern Border…

“While our border with Mexico has always seen some level of illegal immigration, McCain said, it has not seen the powerful threat of deadly violence that exists today as a result of Mexico’s ongoing war against its drug cartels.”. “I recently returned from a visit to our southern border and we are seeing progress along our land borders, but progress is not success. We must remain vigilant and continue to make every effort to secure our border.” “While Senator McCain and I have successfully fought to increase funding for border security efforts, most in Washington have yet to appreciate that a whole lot more still needs to be done. The Obama Administration claims that the border is ‘more secure than ever,’” said Senator Jon Kyl. “With hundreds of thousands of people illegally crossing the border every year and record drug smuggling and violence, shouldn’t the government be working to completely secure the border? Our plan is a straightforward approach that will actually achieve a secure border.”

Senators McCain and Kyl’s Enhanced Ten Point Border Security Action Plan:

1) Deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the United States-Mexico border.
2) Deploy 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents to the United States-Mexico border by 2016 and Offer Hardship Duty Pay to Border Patrol agents assigned to rural, high-trafficked areas. Provides funding for 500 more customs inspectors for the sw border.
3) Provide increased funding for Operation Streamline. A costly initiative aimed at criminally prosecuting and imprisoning every immigrant who crosses the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully.
4) Provide increased funding for the Southwest Border Prosecutors Initiative. (Public Law 108-447) $30,000,000 is for the Southwest Border Prosecutor Initiative to reimburse State, county, parish, tribal, or municipal governments only for costs associated with the prosecution of criminal cases declined by local United States Attorneys offices.
5) Provide increased funding for Operation Stonegarden. “Operation Stonegarden grants direct critical funding to state, local and tribal law enforcement operations across the country,” The 2009 allocations reflects President Obama’s increased emphasis on the Southwest border in response to cartel violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Based on greater risk, heavy cross-border traffic and border-related threat intelligence, nearly 76 percent of the $60 million Operation Stonegarden funds will go to Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—up from 59 percent in fiscal year 2008.
6) Construct double-layer fencing at needed locations along the United States-Mexico border and replace outdated and ineffective landing-mat fencing along the southwest border.
7) Increase the number of mobile and other surveillance systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) along the United States-Mexico border. Send additional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to the United States-Mexico border.
8) Provide funding for vital radio communications and interoperability between Customs and Border Patrol and state, local, and tribal law enforcement.
9) Provide funding for additional Border Patrol stations along the southwest border and explore the creation of an additional Border Patrol sector in Arizona. Create six more permanent Border Patrol Forward Operating Bases and upgrade existing bases.
10) Complete construction of the planned permanent checkpoint in Arizona. Deploy additional temporary roving checkpoints and increase horse patrols throughout the Tucson Sector.

All traffic from the US-Mexico Frontier is funneled through road check points scattered all over Southern Arizona. New roads has been graded parallel to the Border so Homeland Security is able to access the entire region rapidly.



This new wall was installed in Nogales on the Arizona and Sonora line.

To help the country out the conservative left has tried to raise enough money to build a second border wall to backstop the present wall. One hysterical conservative fund initially raised $265,00 for the second wall, but six months later money for the project has dried up and the existing funds will not construct one mile of border wall. Still advocates say start the construction and more money will begin to flow in to preserve our democracy. The new wall just installed this year in Nogales is designed to halt a 10 ton truck going 40 mph. But it fails to keep out people who can quickly scale the fence, some fall and break bones but many more find a way over the wall. Every night border fence is cut and repaired the next day, critics say Mexican smugglers are able to cut the fence at its base bend it flat and use it as a ramp for trucks to enter the U.S., all in five minutes. The wall will not stop people unless you watch it and if you watch it–you don’t need a wall. One utube video shows two girls climbing the wall in less than 18 seconds! Is this really worth $4 million a mile ?

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plans didn’t take notice of what’s already been done along the U.S-Mexico, including record-high staffing levels along the border and the failure of a Bush-era virtual-fence plan. Today the Border Patrol has more than 18,500 agents working on the southern border. In the year budget ending last September, agents apprehended about 340,000 illegal immigrants, the fewest in nearly 40 years – an average of 18 apprehensions per agent. The decrease in apprehensions has been linked to a weak economy producing fewer jobs in the U.S. and to more law-enforcement agents and technology being deployed along the border. Under the Bush administration, the government built hundreds of miles of fencing along the Mexican border. A planned virtual fence was also started, but was scrapped by the Obama administration in 2010 after the project was deemed a failure. About 53 miles of virtual fencing is in place near Sasabe, Az, at a cost of about $1 Billion. An exit-verification system has been sought since after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but efforts to build one have been repeatedly stymied, most often because of the projected costs. Earlier this year, John Cohen, deputy counter terrorism coordinator for the Homeland Security Department, told a congressional panel that the agency was finalizing plans for a biometric data system to track who leaves the country and when. He didn’t give any details. Arizona’s unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor however does have some very specific ideas how best to secure the border…

If the United States wants effective border security and not just a political punching bag, where symbolism trumps common sense, then more effective law‐enforcement measures must be taken. By attacking money laundering and making bi‐national criminal investigation and prosecution of the cartel bosses a priority, the border can be made significantly more secure. In the process, the mayhem in Mexico and the smuggling of drugs and people into the United States will be reduced. There must be a unified focus. All agencies must get on the same page to succeed. State and local law enforcement, with the coordinated efforts of all relevant federal agencies, can win this.</a>

The United States’ southern border today bristles with technology and manpower designed to catch illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. Since 1986, the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on fences, aircraft, detention centers and agents. But even as federal budgets shrink and illegal immigration ebbs, experts say that there’s no end in sight for the growth of the border-industrial complex. A growing investment on the border stocked with equipment like Blackhawk helicopters — hundreds of aircraft fly daily missions — much of the southern border has grown into an industrial complex that is fed by the government and supplied by defense contractors and construction companies. The infrastructure includes a border fence that in some places has been built and rebuilt several times. And up to 25 miles north of the border, towers, sensors and permanent checkpoints spread across the landscape.

The government spends an estimated $5 million each day to house detainees awaiting deportation. All this takes manpower. Roughly 80,000 federal employees work in immigration enforcement and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano…believes it is safe to say that there has been more money, manpower, infrastructure technology, invested in the border protection mission in the last three years than ever before.

Hernan Lopez, a U.S. Border Patrol camera monitor watching our border with Mexico. Photo by Tricia McInroy

Janet Napolitano

“NOW IS THE TIME FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM SAYS JANET NAPOLITANO”… Since the last comprehensive immigration reform was passed by Congress in 1986, creating the border industrial complex which has been a bipartisan affair. It really picked up after 9/11. Nearly every piece of security legislation since then has contained add-ons for immigration enforcement. If you add up the budgets of the responsible agencies since 1986, the bill is $219 billion in today’s dollars. That’s roughly the entire cost of the space shuttle program. Unlike the space shuttle program, there’s no end in sight. Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, agrees it’s going to be hard to pull back spending and says DHS is now dealing with the challenge the entire government is facing and that is that our budget is hemorrhaging red ink and we’ve got to cut spending before it’s too late. For the first time in its history, the Department of Homeland Security will get less money in its upcoming budget than it did the year before.

Raul Grijalva

But Arizona Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva says there’s a lot of pressure from Congress and lobbyists to maintain and even move forward with programs. Representative Raul Grijalva says “here’s a mutual dependency that’s been created in the industries and Homeland Security. And that industry is going to, and is starting to become, a very, very powerful lobby here.”

Politicans turned out to shake hands on Labor Day in Eloy, Az after the parade through downtown. The controversial Sheriff of Pinal County Paul Babeu shook hands with his constituents asking each for their vote. Babeu has recently drawn attention and criticism for his use of military equipment for a slush fund and was just told to return the equipment …

NEWS FLASH: Sheriff Paul Babeu announced the creation of an armed Anti-Smuggling Posse to assist our Pinal’s tactical team and narcotics task force as they track, attempt to identify and arrest those responsible for drug and human trafficking in Pinal County. Babeu stated “the cartels of Mexico have between 75 to 100 lookout posts through this known drug and human smuggling corridor. They use these high vantage points to ensure their loads, whether they are humans or drugs, make it through. The armed Anti-Smuggling Posse with help provide additional strength to our operations to ensure the safety of our citizens and our members. We will continue to bring the heavy hand of enforcement to those who think they can smuggle drugs or humans through Pinal County.”</a>

<a href=”http://www.statesman.com/news/news/opinion/longley-industry-of-border-security-creates-extra-/nRjsP/” title=”NATIONAL BORDER INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX” target=”_blank”>During the past 40 years, a multi-billion-dollar border industrial complex has sprouted up, bearing a striking resemblance to the military industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about in 1960. These large institutions have a vested interest in short circuiting immigration reform and absorbing huge quantities of national security funds. What are the foundations of the complex? An obvious one is the private sector writes Kyle Longley, a history professor at Arizona State University
and the author of four books.


Many businesses long dependent on military spending have expanded into border security. The efforts of Boeing to build a high-tech fence along the border provide one example. It spent $1 billion of a proposed $8 billion budget before Homeland Security pulled the contract after Boeing produced only 53 miles of a flawed virtual fence. Not all businesses have defense industry ties. In fact, one of the biggest beneficiaries remains the private prison system. Huge companies, including Corrections Corporation and GEO Group, incarcerate large numbers of illegal immigrants for the government. Understanding the potential, the company’s lobbyists have backed hardline security-first leaders, such as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who championed the Senate Bill 1070 immigration law. Many others in the private sector benefit, from airlines that rent planes to ICE to deport immigrants, to the local business people who provide food and gas to Border Patrol agents. It is a lucrative industry that ensures private businesses employ armies of lobbyists to push their agendas.

Lots of vehicles need lots of gas…

The border security industrial complex has strong political boosters, particularly members of Congress from the Southwest. With poverty high in many areas, groups such as the Border Patrol provide employment and pump in billions of dollars. Drive through Ajo, Arizona, where copper mining dried up in the 1980s, and you find a town that relies heavily on an extremely visible presence of the Border Patrol. The scene is replicated from San Diego to Brownsville. Local officials (mayors, sheriffs, police chiefs) have proved to be stalwart supporters of the complex. The federal government pours billions of dollars into border security, and these officials compete for the monies to supplement their law enforcement budgets. Municipalities throughout the Southwest have become dependent on the federal money to survive during hard times.


The NICHOLAS IVIE, the U.S. Border Patrol agent killed in a shooting in Southern Arizona apparently opened fire on two fellow agents thinking they were armed smugglers and was killed when they returned fire, the head of the Border Patrol agents union said. The two sets of agents approached an area where a sensor had been activated early Tuesday from different directions and encountered each other in an area of heavy brush, National Border Patrol Council President George McCubbin told the Associated Press in Phoenix.”It’s happened and it’s a horrible tragedy for the agents involved and their families and the agency,” McCubbin said. “We can come up with some reasons as to how this happened, but that doesn’t fix anything. All we can do is send prayers to the families and all the agents involved that somehow they can find some peace with this someday.”Ivie’s death marked the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010 and spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation.

National Geographic has produced a”Border Wars” website produced from Nogales, Arizona, where the men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are at ground zero in the war against drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and terrorism. Officers and agents work around the clock patrolling 1100 square miles of terrain, including some 32 miles of international border between the U.S. and Mexico. Border Wars follows these men and women as they fight a daily battle at one of the busiest border crossings in the U.S. The cameras were there as officers raced to save suffering migrants in the desert, uncovered a shocking cartel smuggling strategy, rescued two little girls as they were smuggled into the United States, and broke a port record for a single seizure. They also captured video of a drug-ladden ultralight airplace dropping his load in the U.S and flying back into Mexico. These agents’ and officers’ work goes on 24/7 as they protect the nation from the front lines, click here to see them work.</a>

<a href=”http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/videos/ultralight-drug-drop/embed/” title=”DRUG DROP” target=”_blank”>CLICK HERE TO SEE ULTRA-LIGHT AIRPLANE DROP HIS LOAD OF DRUGS…

Congress women Gabby Giffords shortly before being shot a a townhall meeting in Tucson Arizona, the Tucson lawmaker passed legislation making ultralight flights over the US-Mexico Border illegal. This new law handed local law enforcement a new weapon against illegal drug smuggling for border bound law enforcement agencies.

“Ten Years of Waste, Immigrant Crackdowns and New Drug Wars” written by Tom Berry on his Friends of Justice blog …CLICK HERE

Just as the Bush administration launched the “global war against terrorism” and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a burst of misguided patriotism, the administration also thrust us into a new era of “homeland” and border security with little reflection about costs and consequences. Without a clear and steady focus on the actual security threats, “homeland” and border security have devolved into wars against immigrants and drugs. Instead of prioritizing intelligence and interagency communication – the failures of which made 9/11 possible – the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration, have mounted security-rationalized crackdowns on the border and in the interior of the “homeland.”

As a result, the criminal justice system is overwhelmed, our prisons are crowded with immigrants and the flagging “war on drugs” has been given new life at home and abroad. Absent necessary strategic reflection and reform, the rush to achieve border security has bred dangerous insecurities about immigration and the integrity of our border.

Tightened control has made illegal crossings more difficult and more expensive. It has also turned what were previously routine, nonviolent crossings into dangerous undertakings that regularly involve dealings with criminal organizations. An indirect and certainly unintended consequence of the US border security buildup has been the increasingly violent competition between criminal organizations and gangs as they both struggle to maintain markets and trafficking corridors. Despite the border security buildups and $100 billion spent along the southwestern border, no terrorists or terrorist weapons have been seized. DHS does point out, however, that every year it regularly apprehends illegal border crossers from countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Those apprehended are mostly from Cuba, with single digit numbers from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. Border security hawks point to these arrests of citizens from “special interest countries” as evidence that the “broken border” keeps Americans vulnerable and that the border should be completely sealed.

Ten years after the federal government undertook a new commitment to domestic and border security, the nation deserves to know what the tens of millions of dollars spent on securing the southwestern border have accomplished. Before more tax dollars are dedicated to border security, we need new policy frameworks for immigration and illegal drugs that disaggregate these issues from homeland and national security.

The post-9/11 imperative of securing “the homeland” set off a widely played game of one-upmanship that has had Washington, border politicians and sheriffs, political activists and vigilantes competing to be regarded as the most serious and hawkish on border security. The emotions and concerns unleashed by the 9/11 attacks exacerbated the long-running practice of using the border security issue to further an array of political agendas – immigration crackdowns, border pork-barrel projects, drug wars, states’ rights and even liberal immigration reform.

Janet Napolitano noted that there are more U.S. Border Patrol agents now than ever before, that deportations of illegal immigrants hit a record high last year and that there are higher rates of drug and gun seizures. That is proof of a tighter border, she said. “Too often, the ‘border security first’ refrain has served as an excuse for failing to address overall immigration reform,” Napolitano said.









Nicholas Ivie, a 30-year-old father of two, was shot and killed in the sparse desert in SE ARIZONA




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