by Ben Small
We hear about the Arizona-Texas shootings, bombs and other mayhem along the Mexican border, but rarely do we consider another tragic aspect of our failure to secure our southern borders: death by exposure. Last year, from October, 2009 to the beginning of March, 2010, over eighty-five illegals died from desert exposure, an increase of over sixty percent from the year before.
And that was during winter.
One doesn't usually consider death by desert exposure during the winter months. People forget, the desert is dry -- little water available -- and night temperatures can reach well below freezing.
And what about summer deaths, the Sonoran Desert's most treacherous season? From July 1 - July 15 this year, over forty bodies dead from exposure were found in Tucson's Pima County, all recent deaths. Final figures won't be available for Cochise or other counties south of Tucson for awhile.
It takes time to find the stink, and there's a lot of ground to cover.
And this is just death of illegals dealt by Mother Nature alone. These figures don't count drug war victims shot by border patrol officers or by bandits waiting in the hills; it doesn't include those who die during home invasions or on the highways, like inside sweltering smugglers' trucks, vans or eighteen wheelers.
The Sonoran desert lies beneath a relentless sun. Temperatures well over a hundred. And water is sparse. You lose moisture breathing.
Environmentalists stopped the fence project, complaining wildlife wouldn't be free to meander. Evidently, the Feds rate keeping coyotes, rattlers and rabbits happy over saving human lives. The Department of Interior won't allow Border Patrol agents access to some federal forests.
At some parts of what passes for a border fence, a handicapped person could cross. Crawl or climb, your choice. Or maybe somebody will lift you.
Yup. Death by exposure in the Arizona desert is headed for a record toll.
Imagine yourself in this circumstance: sweltering under a bush, your tongue swollen and black. You struggle for breath. You're withering; you feel yourself desiccating by the moment. There's no relief from the sun's burning grip. Even the winds blow like a blast furnace. You know that your body may never be found, that family may never learn your fate; or, if they left you behind, you know they will always be haunted by guilt. Or maybe a rattlesnake got you and you're wracked in pain, as its poison shuts down and eats your muscular system -- or in the case of the Green Movave -- paralyzes your neurological system, too.
The death toll from having an insecure border rises each year. In all, we're talking thousands of lives.
And these statistics fail to include the number of illegals rescued from the desert by the border patrol or local ranchers. Those numbers are in the thousands, too, and they go up every year.
Rather than devising means to secure our borders -- the particularly lax Arizona border, especially -- the Obama Administration would prefer to talk Immigration reform and fight in court Arizona's efforts to enforce federal immigration law on its own border.
Does a state have the right to protect itself from those who would invade it?
Why are Congress and Obama doing this? Because they want the Hispanic vote. Simple as that. They'd rather swell the voter rolls with amnestied former illegals than close the border off.
Amnesty means votes, and votes are all that matter. So what if there's collateral damage? So what if some of the people whose votes they're enticing die in their desperate attempts to get here and fall under the Fed's protective umbrella? And so what if the Border Patrol must allocate time and money to the thousands of desert rescue efforts yearly? Consider the manpower requirements associated with our vast borders; the cost of the ambulances and free emergency care.
Talking about a broad Immigration policy that includes some form of amnesty when one cannot secure one's borders just encourages illegal aliens to take the crossing-risk and hazard a long journey through a scorching or frozen desert. The rewards are citizenship, the right to vote and free health care. Heck, cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Fe and Albuquerque offer themselves up as "Sanctuary Cities."
If I were an illegal fleeing Mexico, I'd be tempted to give the Sonoran Desert a shot. Just pack a couple water bottles, eh?
And if Congress passes an Immigration Reform package and the border is still insecure...well, think about it. All we'll accomplish is to encourage a new wave of illegals. We've done this before.
An immigration reform package will do nothing to stop the money, human and drug smuggling operations of the Mexican drug lords. Mexico is under siege and its drug gangs are setting up shop in this country. Mexicans are fleeing Mexico, desperate to escape the daily gang battles, poverty, treachery and corruption.
Our insecure border is costing lives.
We talk about the horrors of water-boarding and Abu Ghraib and GitMo. We say those activities are inhumane, even if conducted against someone who's planning to kill us. Torture, we call these things. But what about leaders who are willing to tempt illegals to cross our deserts, knowing that a large number of them won't make it, that their bodies will rot and become bounty for birds, bugs and four-legged predators?
And why? Because they want the Hispanic vote, of course. Racism from another angle, maybe? Who knows? But is this "change we can believe in?"
It's ridiculous to talk about meaningful immigration reform or amnesty while our borders are woefully insecure. Until we have secure borders, we encourage people to risk their lives, and we give those terrorists who live to strike at the heart of America an avenue to smuggle in their dirty bombs, suitcase nukes and biological weapons. While some of these bad guys may die of desert exposure in the searing sun or unprotected cold, others will survive to carry out their dark, destructive plans. It's just a matter of time...
So maybe our politicians should think less about politics, and more about humanity and protection of the Homeland.
Seems simple enough to me. But then I live in Arizona, and I see and hear about these tragedies every day.
It's time our president stepped up and took control of our border. If, as Eric Holder's Justice Department argued in Phoenix federal court proceedings two weeks ago, Immigration control is exclusively within the province of the federal government, then the Feds should do their job. Instead, however, the Feds are obstructing Arizona from protecting itself, and are threatening to refuse to cooperate in the handling of those illegals Arizona saves or captures. The Dept. of the Interior won't even give our Border Patrol agents access to its borderline forests.
It's all about votes, folks. Notions of humanity and protection of those who are already citizens don't seem to count. If they did, these problems would have been solved a long time ago.
Watch the videos here:
KVOA Report, 7-19-10
KVOA Report, Part 2