When you see a smoky-dark wall snaking over parched hills, the line is clear. On one side is Mexico. On the other is the U.S.
But when you start looking at people, things aren’t so clear. They’re scary, painful and even mean.
For Arizona rancher Duncan Blair, the tall border wall stops at the edge of his property and becomes a barbed-wire fence with holes snipped long ago, which U.S. officials ignore. He feels like he’s stuck in the middle of a funnel between “gringo tokers” and the “Mexican cartel,” and things have gotten nasty in recent years. He carries a gun when riding certain pastures.
“It got mean because it got complicated,” he said. “There’s just a sense that nobody cares.”
Carlos Garcia, a leader with the Puente Movement, lives daily with uncertainty. Born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. at 5, he has received his documentation. But his family, like so many working and living for decades in a land of opportunities, is mixed. Many remain undocumented. With Arizona’s recent crackdowns, Garcia’s afraid to drive his grandpa to the store, or even have his family over for dinner.
“They’re able to charge me,” he said.
With Arizona’s illegal immigration population quadrupling to 460,000 in a decade a half, the state has tried a number of measures. It was Senate Bill 1070, calling for local officers to ask for documentation from suspected illegal immigrants during routine stops, that dialed up the heat and rocketed the issue to the national stage. This is a focus of "The State of Arizona," a film KLRN is screening this Thursday.
Jorge Martinez, who owns a home and an ice-cream truck, drives more than 100 miles a day and sees a lot of people detained along the route. He faces an upcoming deportation proceeding himself, which could split his family of 16 years. He has no idea what to do in Mexico. His family is scared and confused.
“We are thinking, what to do if he is going to Mexico,” said his business partner and mother of his son. “Yesterday I asked my son, what you think about they send your dad to Mexico. And he said, 'I don’t know but I don’t want to go to Mexico.'”
As officials raid a restaurant they suspect employs illegal immigrants, two construction workers stand at the curb and lament losing bids to companies hiring illegals. Yet, things aren’t always so clear, one says.
“It’s a hairball,” he said. “Because I know people here that their parents are illegal, but they’ve been raised here their whole life. What are they supposed to do? Are you going to send their parents back to Mexico and leave them here? It is a big mess.”
Join KLRN for a Community Cinema screening and panel discussion of this film on Thursday, November 14 at 7P.
-Written by Patrick Driscoll, KLRN Staff Member