Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sam L. Jackson and the U.S. Border Patrol

The U.S. Attorney's office in Yuma, Arizona is located only 7 miles from the Mexican border. The AUSA (Assist. U.S. Attorney) office is actually being hosted in the U.S. Border Patrol office in a small room made even smaller by four bulky cubicle style offices. However small it may seem, these guys see cases where men cross the border into the U.S. with 12,000 lbs of Marijuana... yeah, 12,000 lbs!

Last week, I spent a day inside this office, and one of the AUSAs was kind enough to give me a tour of the Border Patrol processing rooms. I got to see illegal aliens in holding cells, border patrol officers lifting weights in the on-site gym, and, my favorite part, the surveillance room.

Imagine a cross between NASA and Jurassic Park control rooms. Actually, the only part taken from Jurassic Park control room is Samuel L. Jackson... his face, his voice, his attitude. Take those traits and attribute them to a guy in Yuma named Gary and put him in NASA control room, but the video monitors along the wall are surveying the Mexican-Arizona border rather than SPACE.

According to Gary, five years ago Mexicans were scrambling across the border in droves. Now, it is a rare occurrence that illegals are crossing successfully (at least relative to five years ago). The reason for this? Perhaps it is due to the insane amount of security Arizona has put in place.

I'm not saying that AZ bill 1070 isn't wrong, but with everything the government has done, I can imagine the frustration.

Along the AZ-MX border is a primary fence yards tall, which is fairly climbable. Behind the primary fence is a canal about 10 yards wide and pretty deep... fairly unswimmable (at least for those of us who didn't pass the Guppy stage at YMCA swim lessons... gulp). Then, there is a secondary fence which is rendered unclimbable by special mesh fencing the government has developed specifically to prevent illegal border crossing. The mesh covers fence posts, and is so tightly woven that fingers, hooks, straps etc are unable to go through it.

Yet, there are break points where the canal and mesh fence cross each other, and this is where illegals cross. However, this is also where ground patrol officers are stationed (in addition to stations all along the border).

Not only do they have ground patrol, but the video surveillance room is full of people watching the border 24 hours a day and recording what they monitor.

In addition to all that, there are seismic sensors, infrared sensors, and motion detectors in place along the entire border.


All this Samuel L. Jackson told me in his "hold on to your butts" bad ass laid back, but serious style of conversing.

So how is it that people and drugs are still entering the country illegally?? Well, there are other states like NM and TX whose borders may not be as tightly controlled. As well as the ol' balloon across the border trick, where drug lords float substances atop the fences and patrolmen.

In conclusion, my trip to Arizona was very educational and almost movie-like in the behind the scenes stuff I got to see. These guys seem to have it under control despite all the hype in the media. Then again, I have heard that people aren't coming here with such alacrity as before given that the economy is in the dumps. Although I can't speak of the other states, Arizona definitely has the upper hand when it comes to state versus street.

One more noteworthy tid bit: I was told by a guy sitting next to me on the plane from Cincinnati to Phoenix that Yuma was quote "Shoot 'em up bang bang." And I should be careful. Perhaps I should have told him that I was coming from Philly... Yuma is hardly the shoot 'em up bang bang city I thought it may be. At least out there I can walk five blocks down the road without being offered crack rocks.




Benito said...

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.