Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's Really Happening on the Arizona/Mexican Border

After reading my recommendation of the doc, "389 Miles: Living the Border," a Myspace friend wrote that she wished people in the Northeast could actually know what's going on along the border.

Her question really weighed on my heart, so I spoke to a friend of the Douglas rancher who was killed. She told me that the police now know that it was drug smugglers who killed the rancher. She is angry because the newspaper accounts pointed to illegal immigrants crossing the border. She confirmed that things are horrific on the border. The drug smugglers and human traffickers are ruthless murderers. Much of what is happening isn't covered on the news - for instance little girls are being abducted from their homes. The smugglers have gotten cocky and bold and will shoot anyone that gets in their way - even policemen. The ranchers in the area are requesting military intervention. These ranchers are rightfully outraged. They want to shoot anyone who comes on their property.

But I want to make something clear - all "illegals" are not the violent criminals. The media is equating the word "illegal" or "illegal immigrant" with violent criminals. Not everyone who is crossing the border is a drug smuggler, kidnapper, or home invader. Most are migrant workers risking their lives to work for a better life for their families. Some of these migrant workers are even kidnapped and held for ransom or sold into human slavery. They are the victims. You might say that they should stay in Mexico. Imagine how bad things must be at home for these people to risk their lives crossing our brutally hot desert. And now it has become nearly impossible to get papers to come here legally.

Recently, a facebook friend posted a Fox news story on the Mexican crime wave spreading to Arizona. It was clearly edited to illicit fear. There were shots of: huge stacks of cocaine, members of the Mexican drug cartel shooting each other, dead bodies, kidnapping innocent civilians and a full out military attack on the smugglers. Then they showed shots of the violence spreading to Arizona: shots of migrant workers being kidnapped, and even a reenactment of a home invasion in Phoenix. Scary stuff. But the scariest part was that some FB friends couldn't distinguish from migrant workers and the home-invaders. One FB friend asked, "How do we tell the difference?"

This is not the first time the media has broadcast stories to create fear of illegals. The documentary,"Immigrant Nation," shows President Bush's efforts for immigration reform derailed by his own party. The Republican party used the media to create fear of illegal immigrants to get people to vote Republican. The news covered every crime they could find done by illegals including a drunk driver hitting an American. They created fear anyway they could - even reporting rumors of diseases being brought into our country by illegals.

I've lived in Tucson, Arizona for 15 years. I've seen undocumented immigrants in low income jobs like dish-washing and housecleaning or physically demanding outdoor work like landscaping, construction, and roofing. I don't know how they work out in hot Arizona sun. I wouldn't want to do it.

The undocumented workers I see are living in trailers, raising families, and working hard to send home money to their families in Mexico. I know a young woman who nearly died in the desert when she injured her foot. Luckily, a friend found her a walking stick which saved her life. Now that she knows the dangers, she says that she wouldn't cross the desert again. She came here to find work so she could help her family in a small Mexican town where there are only a few low paying jobs. Even when she found work, all her family could afford was tortillas and beans. I asked her why she didn't wait to come here legally and she said it costs so much and takes ten years (if you are accepted.)

This is a complicated issue. That is why documentaries like "389 Miles: Living the Border" (link to full movie) are so important. Tucson Filmmaker Luiscarlos Davis, who lived on the border city of Nogales, traveled the length of the border to capture stories that put a human face on this issue.

Recognizing a pressing need, Luiscarlos is presenting his documentary around Arizona to create more understanding during these difficult transitional times. He has agreed to do free screenings; but because the film doesn't have distribution yet he must present the film himself. This is great because he has a personal connection with the issue that he can share. Please, consider arranging for a screening for your club, organization or church NOW.

Movie blessings!
Jana Segal

(Note: The host usually pays for the filmmakers' travel expenses and may make a donation towards the costs of preparing the film for distribution so even more people can see this powerful film.)

To arrange for a screening, e-mail the filmmaker Luiscarlos at:


The Mess Hall Queen said...

Hi Jana! VERY GOOD. Thank you so much for is needed. Cuddle Bear and I are VERY interested in getting the documentary to some groups in Benson and also Douglas. He is coming over tomorrow and we will check out the trailer...based on that, if we think it is the tool that we hope it is, we will email him and set something up!

The Mess Hall Queen said...

OH and here is the link to a VERY good, and accurate book about what it is like for those trying to protect our border..

The author is a friend of my Fiance ;)

Jana Segal said...

Luis Carlos Davis was raised in the border cities of Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora. Davis earned a master's degree in Latin American studies with a focus on media arts, border studies and international journalism from the University of Arizona. His documentary, "389 Miles: Living the Border," has been screened around the United States as well as in Mexico, France, and Argentina - to name a few. It has also been screened at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the National Collegiate Leadership Conference, and the Guadalajara International Film Festival. He recently received the Audience Award for Best Film at the Puerto Vallarta International Film Festival for this work. In addition to producing and directing his films, Davis shares his skills with at-risk youth. He is currently working with the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation to open a multimedia center for youth in Southern Arizona. In 2010, Luis Carlos Davis won the Tucson Citizen's "40 Under 40 Man of the Year." In 2013, Davis won Tucson Pima Arts Council's "Emerging Artist" Lumie Award.

Tom Parker said...

Thank you for writing this.

Just the other day, i was at a holiday party I had the opportunity to visit with a recently retired boarder agent of 27 years. Our conversation eventually turned to his experiences and I will say, it has scared the heck out of me. Now, as he referred to those innocent people crossing the desert for a journey toward a better life it was nearly spot on to the content of your blog post. The scary part was the details shared about what he witnessed and fought for right in our own back yard. It used to be just hand guns that the cartel had. Now it's machine guns mounted on sofisticated off road vehicles along with those ultra light aircraft flying over the boarders and dropping drugs to be recovered by on ground cartel.

Why is the stuff not televised? Is our agents adequately funded to facilitate their mission? What happens during a govt shut down since these are federal agents? What happens during budget cuts? All of these questions I had asked him and received his responses of what was implemented during those scenarios. I'm not sure if I am allowed to post his responses in this forum but I will say it's not comforting.

I live in Ahwatukee and I'm nervous for my family's safety.