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What follows is a letter I received from Scott Nicholson, a community organizer who has been working on the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. It is posted here in full with his permission.

Dear friends,

     “When we see people like you we don’t run and hide,” said José when I sat beside him at the Grupos Beta migrant center in Nogales on March 22.  “When we see them with their backpacks, and at the beaches, we treat them well.”

Jose photo Joseacute2_zps72fd25b0.jpg

     José is 19 years old and from the southern state of Chiapas.  He and two companions had traveled the entire length of Mexico and then crossed into Arizona.  They hiked for five days in the desert and they ran out of water and food after the first three days.  In their desperation, they walked into the town of Tubac and found a store where they bought drinks and food.

     “People ran away and hid,” said José.  “They looked at us like we were from a UFO.  Someone called us ‘Mexican motherfuckers’ and they called the Border Patrol.”

     “The agent shoved me to the ground, put my hands behind my back, and then put his boot on my neck.”  José lifted his shirt and showed me the large scratch on his side.

     “When we were in the prison, they threw the food at us like we were animals.  They just gave us a small, cold hamburger and a carton of juice.  They turned on the air conditioning (to make it cold) and we could only wear t-shirts.”

     José had been deported to Nogales at 11 P.M. the previous night.  There are people who prey on migrants here and dropping them at the border late at night puts them at risk of being assaulted, robbed and extorted.

     “I don’t like America and I’m never going back,” concluded José.

     Margarita told me she was 22 years old and from the state of Guerrero when I talked with her at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta on March 8.  She had traveled two days by bus to get to the border.  She and a cousin then hiked for a day in the Arizona desert and were arrested by the Border Patrol.  Margarita was separated from her cousin in the detention center and she had just been deported to Agua Prieta that morning.  Her cousin had been carrying her cell phone with all the numbers and she had no idea how to communicate with her family.

Margarita photo Margarita_zps1f6ef59e.jpg

     Margarita had hoped to travel to Oxnard, California to work with her cousins in the strawberry fields.  I seem to be lacking the insight used by the government because I don’t see how a young woman who wants to spend her days stooped over picking strawberries poses a grave risk to national security.

     “Because we live in an age where terrorists are challenging our borders, we can not allow people to pour into the U.S. undetected, undocumented, and unchecked,” said Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.  He failed to mention that not a single terrorist has been caught crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S.  

     After being re-elected with the support of the Latino vote, Obama announced his plan for immigration reform.  “I believe it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we’ve taken because we have to secure our borders,” he said.  The Obama administration deported more than 1.5 million people during his first term.  Making increased border security a top priority of reform will likely result in even more racism and brutality being used to protect freedom and democracy.

     Robin Williams, in his starting role as the space alien Mork in the “Mork and Mindy” show, gave a more accurate description of immigration enforcement more than 30 years ago.  He was almost deported from the U.S. for being an “illegal alien.”  Mork always communicated with his boss at the end of the program to inform him about activities on earth.  That week, he said “There’s this lady who is carrying a torch and she keeps saying ‘Send me your tired, your poor, and your huddled masses.’  Except there’s also a man down at the immigration office who says ‘Not too tired, not too poor, and not too many.’”

     In love and solidarity,


Originally posted to Ojibwa on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 10:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by Invisible People, Baja Arizona Kossacks, and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for Scott (17+ / 0-)

    This is really his work. I'm just the messenger. I think this is an important message.

  •  Thanks for posting this (8+ / 0-)

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 10:54:38 AM PDT

  •  Very Hard To Read (9+ / 0-)

    My family came here from Scotland in 1867. I got the letters they wrote about coming here. What they went through. My favorite is from what is my great, great, great grandfather.

    It is an open letter to the community as he was running for political office. When asked his profession he said a farmer, but that to get from the East coast to southern Illinois he "worked the rails" and "dug coal."

    That he'd serve the people of Wabash County, IL with every fiber of his being if elected.

    I say this over and over again, I am an immigrant. I welcome other immigrants. All of them!

    The more the marrier IMHO.

    In the above election that letter he wrote, he won it. His kid became a doctor. In less than one generation we became a success story.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 10:55:21 AM PDT

  •  The 'Baggers don't get it, (6+ / 0-)

    but these people are coming here to work; to pick our strawberries, flip our burgers and mow our lawns. That said, I wish they could just cross at Nogales and come up I-19 on a bus. Our misguided immigration policy; those two signs on the fence: "Help Wanted" and "Stay Out !," has about destroyed the Sonoran desert. Most Americans don't realize it, but at it's peak, during the housing boom, (Who do you think built all those McMansions?), as many as 500,000 people a year were walking across the Arizona desert, with a couple hundred dying in the process. The desert is a fragile eco-system and between the exodo and the dope smuggling much damage has been done.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 11:16:46 AM PDT

    •  H2B visas? (4+ / 0-)

      The administration that tracked down Osama Bin Laden half way around the world can't run an efficient H2B visa program?

      Republicans would try to sabotage an H2B visa program.  If you're a Republican campaign contribitor, why apply for an H2B visa for your workers when you can underpay and mistreat undocumented immigrants.

      What's the Obama administration's excuse?

      Granted, where I live is not like where most Kossacks live.  The floor where I work is swept by someone of northern European heritage and our trucks are unloaded by someone (Hi!) of northern European heritage.

  •  A Story of Success to some (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, jakedog42, RiveroftheWest, LinSea

    The conservatives along the border hope to be as nasty as possible to immigrants so that they will not feel like coming to America.  So there are many stories of those who were subjected to the worst treatment that people could come up with.  

    What always gets me about this is how few people really seem to get what is going on here.  

    The large international banks and multinationals are setting up a situation in which indigenous subsistence farming is being eliminated in favor of large scale corporate agribusiness.  

    When the local economies go down, people do not have the option of opposing the policies that put those conditions in place, and all they know is that America is the land of opportunity.  Anybody would do the same.  Walk north.  

    Then, we have a situation in which "labor costs" are being subjected to a downward spiral.  Everybody blames everybody else and nobody looks at the larger interests that have a controlling say, even over the various governments.

    This was what was going on as Manifest Destiny swept across the continent and it is going on today.  If you look at European history, it isn't really different from "the clearances" that caused many local subsistence farmers (aka peasants) to be evicted and transported to America.

    One of these days, maybe we will wise up.  

    As long as we think as consumers and not as citizens, this will continue.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 11:52:07 AM PDT

  •  Immigrant (4+ / 0-)

    All four of my grandparents came here through Ellis Island in the 1890's. I consider myself an immigrant also. We need more not less. What gets me is the evil assholes who think treating immigrants this way also consider themselves  to be good christians. I wish we could deport them, but no one would take these hateful people.

    Fuck La Migra

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