Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Barbed-Wire and Backpacks On My Mind

Last month I wrote a diary outlining an ultimatum issued by the Minutemen to George regarding the construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border. They basically said that if national guard troops were not deployed by May 25th, that they would start building themselves.

Well, over the past weekend, that's exactly what they did.
At least 200 volunteers gathered Saturday morning on the Ladds' ranch as they marked Memorial Day weekend and the kickoff of their fence-building effort. Most of the morning was dedicated to speeches from politicians and Minuteman leaders and celebrating large donations the Minuteman group has been receiving.

Among the Minuteman volunteers who made their way to this remote ranch Saturday was Quetzal Doty of Sun Lakes, a retired U.S. diplomatic consular officer. Doty said he's convinced the Minutemen and most Americans aren't anti-immigrant.

"They're just anti-illegal," said Doty, who came with his wife, Sandy. "The Minutemen walk the extra mile to avoid being anti-immigrant and that's what we like about the organization and what got us interested."

"Walk the extra mile" - the irony behind that remark stirs something inside of me. It's the nagging impulse that keeps me up at night, the same prodding that sent me an hour south on Sunday night to go see for myself what I heard only as rumor earlier in the week.

Downtown Nogales, Sonora is closing down, building-by-building.

I don't have any links for proof, but can tell you that my own eyes that I saw a completely different city than the one I visited a couple of years ago. Calle Obregon, the main drag closest to the line is usually bustling with people shopping, cantina-hopping or just walking around to take in the world around them.

It was virtually empty.

I decided to sit down on a bench in one of the placitas for abit to quiet myself and contemplate what is happening between our countries. After about a half hour, I could hear a bunch of voices from behind the corner of the building that was nearby. It was an odd sound, as it served to shatter the darkness and silence of the city square.

One-by-one they came into sight. A line of men walking in procession, each carrying a backpack. They were getting ready to cross the desert.

I imagined what was in those backpacks. Surely water. Will it be enough? Surely food. Will it spoil in the triple-digit heat? Surely paperwork that identifies each person. Will it someday be met by the coroner's glove?

All of these questions swirl in my head as I watch with horror at politician posturing in Washington. The ones getting media attention are the likes of Rep. Steve King (R-IA) who attended the Minutemen groundbreaking ceremony and recently initiated the "English-only" chingaderas on Capitol Hill.

When are you gonna wake up, America, to the humanity that binds us all? When are you going to stop being divided for profit and personal gain? Where is the epiphany that barbed wire is no substitute to friendship?

I guess I'll have to keep waiting for answers and hope that those backpacks are filled with enough provisions to save the life of its owner.

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