Border Talk (Part 1)

20150211_170328-1The proposed fence that is slated to go up in our backyard and the vitriol surrounding illegal immigration has left me gazing south out my kitchen window wondering what the hell happened to us. The actual border between the United States and Mexico is thirty-five miles south of our ranch. Several miles of paved road will get you only so far before you hit dirt. In dry weather, the ride is at best passable. Forget it when it rains. If you’re willing to risk your vehicle, the road takes you through some of the prettiest country this side of the Rio Grande. Cattle roam in tall grass and the rolling landscape is dotted with mesquite, desert oak, and yucca. Willow trees shade the enormous dirt water tanks and appear to wave at passersby on windy days. Jagged crags and deep arroyos remind visitors this is a rough, wild place. Deer, coyote, skunk, and pronghorn are easy to spot, while rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and bobcat live in anonymity.
Twenty miles out, there is a small fork in the road leading west to a Border Patrol Station that looks more like an old mining outpost than a 21st century government facility. How to actually get to the border, to the barbed wire fence that separates the United States and Mexico at the end of the road, depends on who you talk to. There’s a sprawling ranch out that way. The folks who work on it keep an eye on vehicles like they do their cattle and for good reason. Like us, they live and work in an illegal traffic corridor.
Recently Ron and I packed up the dogs and some chocolate chip cookies I’d just baked and headed south. Using Ron’s binoculars, we followed a group of eleven deer ascending a rocky hillside. Sure footed as mountain goats, they disappeared over a ridge before I could take pictures. We stopped at a water tank where a friend said we’d find ducks. To our disappointment, they’d taken the day off. Ron pointed out a few old homes where ranch hands and their families live. The dogs barked at cows. A typical Sunday drive, until shadows settled on the landscape reminding us the sun was setting.
Out on the dirt road, we came to an arroyo with standing water and agreed it was time to go home. If we got stuck in the mud, it was a long and potentially dangerous walk back to the ranch. With no radio reception out there, the ride was quiet. I thought about the fence and the decisions being made that might very well impact our lives. I felt eyes on us. From the hills, shrouded in darkness, to the oval office, I wondered who would win this ongoing battle. The drug runners who hid from our headlights, or the federal contractors with orders from Washington to build the fence?
Last week we learned Border Patrol Agents had been picking up groups of mules (men and women packing drugs) just east of our place nearly every night while we slept. Even so, I’m torn on the subject. A fence will no more solve illegal immigration issues than the National School Lunch Program cures poverty for children. Of course I would like to see the bad guys stopped from coming across the border, but I can’t imagine sending a mother back to Mexico after she risked her life to be with her children.
At home I fed the dogs. It was clear and cold without a cloud in the sky. Too cold for anyone to spend the night out in the desert. The great horned owls that live up in our pine trees hooted from their respective perches giving voice to ominous thoughts of who might be out there just beyond the porch light. I flipped up the collar of my jacket and walked back to the house. Once inside, I locked the door behind me.

4 thoughts on “Border Talk (Part 1)

  1. Thanks for your comments on the border Beth, and I will look forward to many more. I hear so much about coming to this country legally. No one talks about how difficult it is to actually get into the country legally and how many years it takes to do so. How many years can you postpone feeding/clothing a child?
    Another point. I recently heard a frightening statistic. USA population is less than 6% of the world population, but we consume more than 80% of illegal drugs. If there were no money to be made in trafficking, there would be no need for poor people to be conscripted into the business of packing drugs across the border. And you could sleep without locking your doors at night.

    Keep it up girlfriend!

  2. Hmmmm. I do have a comment about the school lunch program. I worked at a school where the prominent race was south of the border illegal. Beautiful, entire families that crossed the Rio Grande carrying the smallest on top of their heads so not to drown. Only to lose, the second youngest to an under current that etched in their minds the trip to freedom. Mamed body parts never corrected that left children and adults alike crooked at joints with different levels of symmetry to their bodies. Once in Houston finding an abandoned abode in a community that even the show COPS won’t film. Abandoned homes, shacks really, once in their hay day very beautiful, stellar, standing with dignity but now left pitted until the city decides what to do with them. We educate them, set up free community medical stations inside the schools and feed them breakfast and lunch (free). Love, education, medical and lots of food for 10 months. With the summer vacation coming to an end, and school starting up again the students come back emaciated. Sunken cheeks with happy smiles. Tiny, frail bodies in an old desk. Couple of weeks pass by, cheeks fill out and the sunflowers begin to grow again. Does it cure the hungry lives they live in the dilapidating community? Short answer, no. But, I would have to say 10 months out of the year the free meals they do receive gives their minds and body a chance to catch up and grow.

    Sent from me when I need to email


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