Dec 4, 2013
New Year’s Call for a Border Reboot
Posted on Dec 31, 2010
I recently moved to Arizona and the reaction I got from various friends was just as provincial as the one I got 20 years ago for moving to Los Angeles from New York. Then it was: “What’re you gonna do—spend your life in a hot tub?” “Hope you don’t start putting ‘dude’ at the end of every sentence.” Or, “Why—you wanna write screenplays?”
Actually, my East Coast compadres had a point. While in California, I did while away many hours in a hot tub. And I was known to interject “dude” in sentences (and nowadays, I continue to roll out “awesome” whenever I feel like it, which is often). Furthermore, yes, I confess—let me off the rack, for the love of God—I’ve written screenplays—sometimes while soaking in a tub with a dude (which is what I was doing shortly before I moved, although actually I was working on a book).
If my fellow citizens want to take these things personally, as a rejection of everything they stand for, the very thing they have spent years cultivating their identities around, well, as we all know, it’s a free country, and that is their right.
Now consider the reactions to my move to Arizona: “Oh, I see. You must be in favor of SB1070” (the state’s bill regarding immigration). Or “How could you live in the place where they turned down Martin Luther King Day?” (Courtesy Sen. John McCain, 20 years ago; a position since reversed). Or how about “Jan Brewer is on you” (the Arizona governor is the poster girl for SB1070). And finally, there was this: “Why? Are you planning to shoot Mexicans?” (a reference to lock and load groups that massed on the border; incidentally, I hear they were financed by people in Southern California).
Unlike my brothers and sisters on the Atlantic Seaboard, my Pacific posse doesn’t even have a point. By their own reasoning, they should flee California immediately. In fact, why some of them even considered being born there is beyond me. I mean, this is the state that passed Prop. 13 (which cut property taxes in 1978, leading to an ongoing crayon shortage in public schools—the least of the lack of supplies and services). It also enacted Ronald Reagan Day (Feb. 6). And let’s not forget that Orly Taitz lives there—you know, the Orange County lawyer/dentist/real estate agent who is also the Obama birther queen. I mean, how can people share a fault line with someone who believes the president “is the most dangerous thing one can imagine, in that he represents radical communism and radical Islam,” and who, quite interestingly, was not herself born in America, for crissake, and in fact is from Moldova? I mean, what is Moldova anyway—some kind of breeding ground for people who want to overthrow the U.S. government?
However, the border should not be wide open. Do you let in everyone who knocks on your door? If someone rings your bell and then proffers a pamphlet that quotes Ephesians and bears the phrase “lamp unto my feet,” don’t you usually ignore them because they don’t have the right password? (Actually, those are the only people I let in, but that’s another story.)
The point is this: In the few months that I’ve been living in Arizona, I have found that the situation on and near the dividing line between Mexico and the United States is more complicated than those who have flamed me for setting up shop here would like to believe. In fact, it’s what I’ve always suspected, but try saying that while everyone else is shouting about the reconquista. In light of something that just happened, and considering that we are about to ring in a new year, I think the time has come to reframe the border discussion.
On Dec. 15, Arizona Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry was reportedly gunned down in a shootout with bandits who prey on illegal immigrants traversing a violent smuggling corridor near the town of Nogales. Although there are now rumors swirling around the incident due to a news blackout, the manner of Terry’s death has been confirmed by Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano.
Not unlike Gov. Brewer and others, Napolitano criticized the feds when she was Arizona’s governor for not doing enough to stop border violence, as Tim Vanderpool reported in the Tucson Weekly several years ago. At the time, there was growing concern about the desert bandits who haunt the old conquistador and Indian trails that immigrants are still following today. These bajadores often coalesce in the form of “rip crews.”
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