“There’s already a massive police presence in border communities under Operation Lone Star,” says Lopez. “People do see it as an occupying force.”
On May 22, 2023, I took a group of students and faculty from George Mason University on a border wall tour that included SpaceX (one month after Elon Musk nearly killed us all in Laguna Madre on April 20). There were chunks of the launch pad still lying around and Texas state highway 4 was damaged severely to the point that there was only one working lane on a two-lane highway. We eventually got to see the obscene, junky SpaceX command post sprawl that hadn't been destroyed on April 20. There was really nothing to see there but fences hiding the damage and trucks with long flat trailers to haul off the post-explosion trash, debris, and presumably, dead wildlife. When we finally arrived at the end of Highway 4, we were at Boca Chica beach. We walked and I drove some of the students and faculty (4 wheel drive 4Runner) to Boca Chica beach where the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. After we all arrived there, two people clad in military gear/kevlar, etc. walked up to our group and asked what we were doing there. One was a Texas DPS trooper, the other was from Florida. Both were heavily armed.
Where the water flows at this estuary, it is shallow. And several people fishing from Mexico in the Rio Bravo were enjoying the beautiful, sunny day. Boca Chica is the most beautiful beach in all of Texas - except for the awful SpaceX launch pad eyesore. Otherwise, the area is serene and gorgeous.
The students and faculty (and I) were upset that these two armed police offers - who really have no business asking us anything on a public beach in a state park - had the audacity to ask us what we were doing there! The GMU folks more or less told them that they were simply observing a pristine area that didn't have a border wall. It was a surreal standoff. Also, the beach narrows at a choke point where the troopers with their pickup truck tried to cut off any return back to the bus that brought them there. Their vehicle was by an old unmarked pickup truck that the two state police offers drove (it was rear wheel drive) and could go no further in the white sands of Boca Chica beach, but still essentially, it looked as if it was an attempt to hem in the group.
After our group took pictures, spoke to the Mexicans who were fishing, and explored the area, we decided to leave. As I loaded the first group into the 4Runner, we passed the troopers walking back to their truck that may have been stuck in the sand. I passed them through a narrow gap, almost hitting their unmarked truck. I went back and forth a few more times, ferrying members of the group back to their bus that was on the last bit of asphalt of State Highway 4. Eventually the troopers disappeared after they managed to get their truck out of the sand.
Later, I took the same group to Brownsville to see the Texas National Guard and more Texas DPS patrolling the levees with their military vehicles. Concertina wire was laid everywhere. In the Rio Grande at 13th and Levee street, the GMU students could see refugees swimming in the Rio Grande to cool off and collect water to wash their clothes. Later, we walked over to Gateway International Bridge, where Haitians, Venezuelans, and Cubans were waiting to be picked up by Team Brownsville volunteers to be directed to buses at the Brownsville bus station and to take bus #50 to get to the Brownsville Airport. One Haitian man spoke to the GMU students and noted that he'd been 6 years in Chile and it took 6 months to get to South Texas - passing through the Darian Gap - with his intact family.
I think these students experienced something through serendipity that they may have never thought could happen on a one-day excursion in bucolic south Texas. I believed they were quite surprised.
I take your point well. The number comes roundly out of studies that have tried to debunk the the thesis that all immigrants are bad and that they bring criminality with them. The theme is carried forward by politicians who say they are criminals when they illegally cross the border outside of established border stations. The studies roughly analyzed criminal records that determined that the immigrant populations were less likely to commit crimes in the early years of their stays than established US residents and citizens. The number was roughly 3 per cent versus 6 per cent. The 45,000 are out of 1.5 million who have been arrested since 2020, with the about half a million got-aways included in that number. It is fair to ask for references and I shall endeavor to get that information for everyone. It makes for a better communication. How many times do we wave our arms and say that over 90 per cent of whatever is okay. In this case 97 per cent of the immigration population do not have statistical criminal intent. I wish somebody would pay us to dig out the gritty details in those numbers so that it could be a passionate full time dedication. I try but like all of us the day job is important for the family. And yes to your other questions.
Good morning and I wish you and everyone to have a good day. I believe some of your comments are right on target. Number one is the American drug crisis. We have two generations, going on three, who are being systematically indoctrinated to accept addictions aka-recreational use as a way of life at all levels of society. The best way to be ostracized at a party, business function, or even a family gathering is to say anyone using illicit drugs has blood on their hands. People cast a side eye and move away because they are or know somebody who is using. The comment makes some people angry because they prefer to live in denial and never consider the supply chain for pot, fentanyl, cocaine has destroyed lives, societies, and national economies. Politicians are unwilling to take a stand because it may be bad optics with their voting base to admit that thousands of Mexicans each year are murdered by cartels and their gangs. Mexican politicians don't stay alive very long, or their families have to live in hiding places if they take real action. All of this goes on while we as privileged US citizens (of all color and kind) make jokes about getting high. "It's not my problem darling, my weed comes from California." Sadly, sincerely how many times have we heard comments like that and we say nothing. Look at the insanity of Afghanistan where the US government made pragmatic decisions to turn a blind eye to opium production, the main source of income for the Taliban. How do you say in polite circles that is absolutely stupid and keep your job because your boss or one of their buddies might take a little sniff now and then? What happens when we try to attend some concerts or public venues in Oregon, Colorado, or maybe a tennis match? The stench of weed is ever present and we do nothing and say nothing wile people are dying on our streets and Mexican streets.
One of the darkest outcomes of the drug trade is our profound arrogance toward human trafficking which is modern 21st century slavery. And--collectively we do nothing.
Our society is so moribound by political polarization that we, you and I, anyone with an opposing or even a challenging position is silenced by innuendo, threats and slander, and screaming. "Oh those stupid liberals want to open the border and destroy America." "Those conservative racists know nothing of our lives on the border and how we have suffered at the hands of law enforcement and CBP bullies." I promise that I take you very seriously. I profoundly share the concern for the lives and safety of the people migrating to our country.
I work with victims of genocide, and I have personally witnessed the sun baked faces of those captured, and looked at their torn clothes and duct taped boots that made a journey of a thousand miles. And very sadly I KNOW that story of women and children apprehended by law enforcement (some say rescued) who are everyday being brought into this country as slaves. Kidnapped, tortured, raped, drugged, and left to die in the desert while the cartel funded coyotes escape. It is horrifying. If not caught, they are a part of the got-aways that disappear into our uncaring society. They are the victims of the statistical 3 per cent of the immigrating population who have criminal intent. The 3 per cent who victimize the fearful 97 per cent. As I have mentioned in a previous post, we can not solve 21st century immigration failures with 19th century policies. There is I believe, a TV reality and a human reality and I feel it with my colleagues everyday. Blessings to you...
Everything about this infuriates me and makes me think about all the horrific things this country allows to be done to people in the name of states' rights. The flip side of that, of course, is that stuck in between Arizona and Texas, New Mexico--where I live--is working pretty hard to protect LGBTQ rights and women's reproductive freedoms, and so far has not joined red state fascist forces. And I hope NM is not going to have a right-wing backlash to Lujan-Grisham in the next election. I know the NM/Mexico border is no model of humane treatment--no Southern border region is--but I worry about how much worse it could be. I remember reading about what happened in Laguna Madre, but I think Terence Garrett's story about his trip there is something that deserves a wider audience!
Our problem is in the numbers. In spite of all border operations over 1.5 million people have crossed into the US illegally since 2020, which includes approximately 500,000 who were "got-aways" and evaded capture. The US does not have an open border policy, and I could not find a direct reference for any country in the world that does have an open border policy. We do not ask question of what to do with the people. Should we just let everyone in to what ever they please? After all it is generally assumed that only 45,000 are statistically prone to be criminals (including the usual violent crimes, and human trafficking). But for some reason after a few years that statistic of criminality may double. But I ask, do we care about the crimes committed to change the border and its policies? What are the alternatives? Should we just not care about drug smuggling and human trafficking(slavery) and just look the other way? New York could not handle some 40,000 immigrants and declared they had a crisis, while the city Houston is reported to have approximately 400,000 undocumented immigrants with the city. We don't have a socialized 5 year plan to accommodate the new arrivals, and the hundreds of thousands more who will make future journeys. Would it be enough under the current wave or crossings to just record their credentials and let them go? Should we Not worry about them and just assume they will integrate into US society? There are many fundamental questions like these that should be addressed, with partisan talking-points side lined.