Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Illegals" or "my friends"? (A guest blogger's insights.)

Well over a year ago in one of my rare appearances at the weekly Friday noon peace vigil downtown, I had the privilege to meet "Border Explorer" and her husband for the first time. Thankfully, it was the beginning of many encounters to follow. I now enjoy the great anticipation I experience each time Mrs. Dada and I have another encounter upcoming with these two.

We are very fortunate to have Border Explorer (BE) and her husband, Paul, here about six months out of the year. They divide their time between El Paso and the midwest. While they are with us they involve themselves in our community by volunteering, studying and exploring border issues. Many people benefit from their efforts.

I know this because I visit BE's travel blog regularly. It gives me a chance to keep up with the wonderful work she and Paul do here in our border area. These are people who not only 'talk the talk,' they 'walk the walk!' We are truly privileged to have them here half of every year.

There are regular visitors to Dada's who appreciate the Southwest and its enhanced richness because of our border with Mexico. Others interested in border issues may enjoy a sampling of BE's blog as well.

I've highlighted a couple herein that, through her visits to the border towns of Columbus, NM and its cross border neighbor, Palomas, Mexico , we get a flavor of the region. Other blog entries reveal BE and Paul's activism and glimpses of border issues.

But I was especially moved by one of BE's latest blog entries. She was kind enough to let me post it here on Dada's as they prepare to leave us soon. Like I said, these folks walk the walk. Here then is the following from...

I am so lucky to be able to assist many poor people in El Paso, among them are the so-called "illegal aliens" so maligned by the media. How can a person be illegal? Who makes those rules? They become my friends and as I prepare to leave in a few weeks, my heart already breaks at the coming separations that await me.

So I want to remember:

...the man who sent all his money to his family in Honduras, then approached me looking stricken because he didn't save back enough money to phone home to assure himself that the money arrived there safely.

...the man about the age of my step-sons who shyly and hopefully suggested to me that perhaps Paul and I would be willing to 'adopt' him to sponsor him as a U.S. citizen.

...the fatherless kids Pedro and Juan who accepted me every week as a sorta-grandmother: throwing kisses, playing patty-cake, and putting on little dramatizations with me much to the amusement of the entire shelter.

...the skinny teen girl who arrived in the middle of the night--raped and traumatized during her migration--saying she was 19 but looking more like 15...and how she invented excuses to hover in my shadow.

...the man battling depression, passing ghost-like with unfocused eyes through the corridors, yet stopping me to say, "I may be sad, but when I see your smile it makes me smile."

...the day two different people at two different times--independently of each other--took me aside to confide: "I don't want to be here illegally. How can I fix this? What can I do?"

And I want to remember how helpless I felt because there is no answer to that question. We don't give them any option. The honest answer would be: "We don't want you to be equals with us citizens. We want you here to do our dirty work."

Very nice. Finally, for a brief but poignant impression of immigration issues, BE shares her insights after attending a recent "Justice for Immigrants" seminar held just up the road at New Mexico State University. It concludes with BE saying, "I'm discouraged today."


eProf2 said...

Sunday morning, so I'm sure you're up there on scenic drive trying to get your picture in the paper again -- LOL!

Even though I've seen BE's posts here in the past I thank you for introducing me to her and her husband and their work on behalf of all human beings. True humanitarians.

I'm not sure what grabs my emotions more: stories like BE's on helping folks or, in a very negative way, tales of border patrol abuses, fences, and other obstacles to finding real solutions to what motivates people here and around the world to cross artificial boundaries to, for the most part, find work with dignity in order to provide for oneself or one's family. I have no doubt that I would be crossing the border if my family was poverty stricken and there was only some boundary stopping me from a better life.

I wonder if the politicians, ICE agents, border patrol agents and others ever put themselves into the shoes of the very people they're constantly rounding up and sending folks back to where they came from?

Again, thanks, and I hope your walk or bike ride was enjoyable today.

Border Explorer said...

A humble thanks, Dada, for your friendship and for today’s posting.

You and your friends here on the Dally are the true bloggers, I think. I just play around at it. Funny how I started blogging so my family & friends in the Midwest could follow our adventures…but most of them don’t, and I ended up blogging for myself. I like the reflection it induces and the memories invoked when reading past postings.

Doubtless, one of the greatest benefits of this migratory life Paul & I live is meeting people like you and your family who are allies in the quest for a better world. As a faithful Dally reader, I’ve “met” and appreciate the regular and occasional commentators here who teach me so much and do it with such wit. I’m grateful to them also.

eProf: The Border Patrol agents have told me they realize that 90% of the people they apprehend and return are people who pose no threat to our nation. But I can't blame the B.P./ICE/etc. Policymakers have abdicated their responsibility to reform immigration law to conform to our present reality.

dada said...

I truly believe there's something beyond our perceptions: call it a collective unconsciousness, noosphere, or morphogenetic field. Or call it "God," whatever. But as an agnostic, I think there exists something. I'll try to relate two recent "coincidences" or synchronicities, one pertaining to today's blog containing links to Border Explorer's link.

The first, which is totally irrelevant to this thread, has to do with the ABC program recently discovered (after cancelling our satellite service), "The View." It helps get us through our morning kitchen routine of breakfast, dishes, etc. Watching Whoopy Goldberg, its moderator, and Mrs. Dada and I wondering about her relationships. That was answered for us in today's newspaper's USA Weekend.

The other has to do with this post and referencing BE's visit to the Columbus--Palomas area I linked to.

Well, shortly there after, we received a "Yahoo groups" e-mail from the Columbus-village group concerning recent violence along the border, specifically Palomas just across the border from Columbus.

Never taking anything for just "coincidence" anymore, I had to follow the Yahoo link. While I haven't finished reading it yet--there are a number of entries there, I quote from one of the following links

"Juárez has seen more than 200 murders since the beginning of the year. More than 2,000 Mexican troops are now patrolling the city of 1.3 million.

"Palomas was recently left lawless after its remaining police officers abandoned their jobs and the police chief sought political asylum in the United States."

This is nothing BE isn't aware of. She's blogged about it. Yet there exists this very real problem that now sees those thousands of Mexican troops patrolling the streets of Juarez just across the US border in attempt to control the violence being facilitated from where - THE USA! - by arms dealers trying to profit off the misery of the warfare they are encouraging just across our border.

But then, if you think about it, what's wrong with amateur capitalists trying to profit from doing the same things their US government does everyday globally?

(Footnote or two: Eprof... didn't make the walk today. That's because editor Sam's babysitting two greyhounds over the weekend. I volunteered to help him. Mrs. Dada and I flipped a coin - I lost - she went.

And as for BE's kind comments herein, she is being modest. It is Mrs. Dada and I who are learning from more and more from her and Paul, her husband, everytime we meet them. But thank you, BE, for your graciousness. You truly are modest!)

D.K. Raed said...

I am very thankful that people like Border Explorer exist & do so much good in the world. From my yrs in San Diego, I know of the hard cruelty the immigrants face. When the fences were installed there, it didn't stop the crossers, they just moved further east into the badlands where crossing can equal death. When citizens tried to set up water & food stations along known routes, way out in the harshest deserts, they were removed by the authorities. Many people died. I don't know what good solution might ultimately be attained, but I think it might entail border communities, on both sides, becoming a kind of state unto themselves, a kind of international free zone. OK, that might just push the borders a little further north & south, but that's not a bad thing. Who knows, maybe eventually the borders would be pushed so far north & south as to become non-existent. I can always hope!