Visiting with Rancheros_The Other Side of the Debate: July 24

Today we went to mass at a small, diverse church called Saint Ferdinand in Aravaca, Arizona. After mass our group and the parishoners gathered together to talk about the border issue. Most of the people were ranchers who owned land all the way up to the border. They had a gun in every room of their houses and carried one with them whenever they left the house. They explained to us that they live in constant fear of the drug cartels who frequently cross into their land. Sue Chilton, a grade school teacher, said that all the rancheros are literally raising money to fortify their four string barbed wire fence and to equally spread out the border patrol officials along the border. Another challenge is the various government agencies that control the land along the border, and the degree access that they grant to border control. This can range from a divided council amongst the Tohona Odom to bird reserves trying to respect a natural environment. The rancheros position is that inadequate security along the border between the United States and Mexico, especially on public lands, has put ranchers and their families living near the border in constant danger of the cartels and those who prey on migrants.

 95% of the border (above)
5% of the border (below)

As a group we discussed how 95% of the fence is like Sue's fence, four strings of barbed wire, and the other 5% are the huge and daunting fences we see on TV. We also talked about whether legalizing the drugs that the cartels take across would help alleviate the problem. Most of the rancheros believed that legalizing these drugs wouldn't solve anything because black markets would still monopolize the narcotics trade. The rancheros advocate legislation that would provide worker visas for migrantes, while increasing security for the cartels. 

Our visit in Arivaca reminded us that there are multiple sides to the border dispute.

For more info, check out this story: http://tucsoncitizen.com/view-from-baja-arizona/2011/04/18/arizona-rancher-blows-away-bureaucrats-at-border-hearing/

(student journal)

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