A perspective on immigration

Tom Camfield
Posted 2/27/19

Arizona’s southern Sonora Desert is like a war zone, bodies falling by the hundreds, leaving families back home to mourn missing loved ones. The dying part, however, is all one-sided—ironically, by those struggling to participate in the American dream, which itself is fast becoming more myth than reality.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

A perspective on immigration


Arizona’s southern Sonora Desert is like a war zone, bodies falling by the hundreds, leaving families back home to mourn missing loved ones. The dying part, however, is all one-sided—ironically, by those struggling to participate in the American dream, which itself is fast becoming more myth than reality.

Yes, they’re breaking the law, but should that involve a death penalty for so many? Delusional Donald would have us dismiss these lost souls with “good riddance.”

In 2018 through mid-December, 50 migrant deaths at our southern border were people drowned while trying to cross river borders. Another 27 deaths were skeletal remains discovered by American authorities.

The greatest cause of death was exposure to heat. A total of 281 known deaths were counted during the 2018 budget year ending Sept. 30, another 32 between then and the Dec. 15 report.

The government report, uncovered by ABC, states the vast majority of deaths in the recent budget year, 117, were migrants from Mexico. Another 116 people were “unknown.” It notes 41 people who died in 2018 were from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Reuters news service reported on Oct. 4, 2018, that the bodies of nearly 3,000 migrants had been recovered in southern Arizona since 2000, according to the Pima County medical examiner’s office. Some 1,100 of those remain unidentified, nameless in history.

Aid group Humane Borders, which sets up water stations along migrant trails, said that may be only a fraction of the total death toll; most bodies are never recovered.

So, of thousands of desperate people, many have been buried in anonymous graves or their undiscovered bones left to be ravaged by weather and wildlife—because of their desire for a better life in a land once colonized in part by their forefathers.

“We cannot continue to be a land, a country that was created on the idea that we accept everybody here. We have broken the number one rule of what America is all about,” says Alvaro Encisco, a member of Human Borders who constructs and erects crosses in the desert at spots where migrants were discovered to have died.

Alvaro’s name suggests Hispanic heritage, but that makes him no less American than I. My ancestors came to what is now the United States as early as 1620. His were possibly part of the Spanish exploration north of our existing southern border as early 1540 or so.

Our present southern border states were partially colonized by Mexico before they were absorbed by the imperialism of U.S. “manifest destiny,” the widely held belief in this new post-Revolutionary young nation that its settlers were divinely destined to expand across North America from sea to sea.

Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, even Louisiana had Spanish missions, forts, minor communities and scattered settlement before eventually being scooped up in final fashion by results of the U.S.-Mexican War that ended in 1848.

Take Texas, long a loosely settled province of Mexico. In 1824 Mexico encouraged settlement by allowing organized immigration from the U.S.—including my wife’s great, great, great grandfather who established a cotton plantation complete with slaves. Within a decade, 30,000 Anglos lived in Texas and only 7,800 Mexicans. Soon came the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War—and total white supremacy.

Arizona was a part of the Mexican state of Sonora from 1822 and on into the 1840s, acquired by the U.S. largely via the Mexican War and the Gadsden Purchase that also scooped up much of New Mexico.

The Spanish colonial period of California followed the Portola exploration expedition of 1769-70 when missionaries began establishing 21 missions on or near the coast north of the current border, beginning with San Diego de Alcala, plus several forts (presidios), such as the one in San Francisco where I served in 1951-52, and several small towns. After Mexico won independence in 1821, California fell under the jurisdiction of the First Mexican Empire. After the Mexican War, Mexico was forced to cede California to the U.S. in 1848, and the gold rush of 1848-49 also drew hundreds of thousands of Anglos from the rest of the U.S.

The upshot of it all is that Hispanics these days are finding it downright deadly trying to return to portions of the land of their forefathers.

DID YOU KNOW? Spanish sailing expeditions long preceded those by Europeans such as Vancouver along the Pacific coast as far north as Alaska. Port Townsend sits on Quimper Peninsula, named for a Mexican naval officer. There was an early Spanish settlement at Neah Bay, of which only fading signs remain.


10 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
Tom Camfield

I'll be my first commenter this time. I expect some flak about defending law-breakers here, but I will continue to stand firm in considering human life as the main consideration. To me, the life of someone such as Donald Trump is of no more importance to the soul of humanity than that of some young adventurous Mexican teenager named Jose. Some young guy who never made it across the Sonora Desert. I will remain big on salvation and sanctuary.

I consider Donald himself actually to be one of the biggest danger to our way of life. I'd rather put my money on and take my chances with someone like Jose. I can remember teenage years ruled by both inertia and dreams of adventure. My choices were easier, which led me to join the Navy (reserve) while still in high school (soon training at sea) and to undertake publishing my own newspaper at age 29. Freedom of Choice needs Freedom of Opportunity if it is to flourish and bear fruit.

Meanwhile, Donald continues to lie "bigly" in a variety of ways. Yesterday he looked bold-face into the TV camera and said 90% of the drugs coming into the country are via other than regular border checkpoints. The insinuation, of course, is that is somehow being transported in the pockets and on the backs of illegal immigrants. Something his vanity wall would prevent. Think about it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ton after ton of drugs has been intercepted at sea by the Coast Guard. Likewise at border checkpoints. Much of the most deadly opiates come through the mail from China, some via Canada. 40- or 50-pound loads of cocaine are not being carried by struggling refugee immigrants staggering and dying from heat and dehydration in the Arizona desert. I haven't heard of the border patrol finding much of anything significant on either the dead would-be or surviving border-jumpers in that area.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Justin Hale

Yes Tom, people have died of exposure in an attempt to enter our country illegally through deserts and wilderness. Aiding and abetting, and in no small way sharing responsibility for these deaths are these groups you praise such as Humane Borders and people such as Alvaro Encisco. Instead of encouraging migrants into the wilderness in hopes of entering our Country illegally Mr.Encisco should be supporting President Trump in building a wall that would discourage such activity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Fred Camfield

Migrating has always been a risky business. About half the passengers on the Mayflower died soon after arriving at Plymouth. Like the "illegals" crossing the Arizona desert in modern times, no one invited them. As in modern times, there was a split opinion among the existing residents about whether they should be welcome. History tends to repeat itself.

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Tom Camfield

I don't visualize these "people" from south of our border as some sort of horde of savage beings inconvenient to the agenda of Donald Trump and his fenced community of white supremacists. I visualize them as individual human beings. Bleeding the same blood as mine, facing the same fears and insecurities, seeking the same elusive comforts for themselves and their progeny as the rest of us. There are, of course, many among us more prone to clinging greedily to the self-pleasures and complacence of the moment--in sort of a paranoid way. They would emphasize perceived differences rather than sameness . . . which is pretty much racist.

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Justin Hale

That's right Fred, and that didn't turn out too well for the indigenous Tribes that welcomed in those early settlers did it.

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Justin Hale

"I don't visualize these "people" from south of our border as some sort of horde of savage beings"...

Neither do I. I see them as people unwilling to fight for their homeland, allowing it to become a SH failed nation.

Does you heart bleed for LEGAL immigrants as well as for ILLEGAL immigrants? Are you saying that differentiating LEGAL from ILLEGAL makes one a "racist"?

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Tom Camfield

Yes, my heart also aches for refugee immigrants who are seeking to enter the country legally. Donald and his administration also have been demonstrating just how difficult it is to get into the U. S. that way--going so far as tearing children out of the arms of their mothers and secluding them elsewhere . . . cursing refugee caravans as being composed of criminals of every sort—rapists, drug smuggles, murderers, etc. That sort of policy certain doesn't do a lot to discourage attempted illegal border crossing.

It seems that $30 or $50 billion in total cost of walling off part of our hemisphere might be better spent in more mutually constructive ways under more enlightened government leadership

Bad-mouthing Mexico in general, al a Donald Trump, also doesn't contribute much anything of a positive nature. Nor does his lack of concern for the plight of young DACA "dreamers" brought here as young children and having lived their entire lives since in the U. S. Donald also is trying to deport all manner of former Mexicans, now model citizens, who entered the country illegally 20 or 30 years ago. What's the point in that--other than obsessive racism carried to extremes?

Legal or illegal, Donald doesn't want Hispanics here--except during growing and harvest season when some of them can get border passes to tend and harvest the crops of big-business commercial growers.''

Do we really want to see our country made over in the image of Donald Trump?

Also, a side note: yes the Mayflower was dangerous in many ways. The first wife of our Camfield ancestor William Bradford, fell off the ship and drowned shortly after it anchored in Plymouth harbor in 1620. And as for indigenous Americans, early Anglo invaders had a lousy record down through the years--killing off en masse American"Indians," kidnapping and enslaving native Africans, warring imperialistically against Mexico. Then we turned greedily to banning Chinese, mounting hate campaigns against Italians and Irish, interring Japanese .—and now banning Muslims and spewing hatred toward Hispanics. Seems like some sort of full circle is involved here somehow.

Friday, March 1, 2019
Justin Hale

" That sort of policy certain doesn't do a lot to discourage attempted illegal border crossing."..... not surprised that you would excuse illegals because President Trump enforces our immigration policies.

"It seems that $30 or $50 billion in total cost of walling off part of our hemisphere might be better spent in more mutually constructive ways under more enlightened government leadership"..... since 2007 9.7B has been spent on a wall, were all of those administrations un-enlightened?

Once again you try to paint the POTUS a racist because he enforces our immigration laws, are all of the federal ICE officers and Border Patrol agents, many who are Hispanic, racists? Are all of the federal employees who work in the Immigration Services racist?

Yes America has made plenty of mistakes in the past, although I would argue no more so than most countries. And we do not ban all Muslims, following Obamas lead we ban citizens from certain Muslim countries, in my opinion Saudi Arabia should have been on that list before those 16 terrorists got in.

Saturday, March 2, 2019
Tom Camfield

At present we're lacking any humane immigration laws. Our southern border is pretty much burdened with the heavy-handed dictates of Donald Trump. We should have resolved the DACA situation by now, and there should be some sort of immigration bill in the works that includes a decent path to U. S. citizenship.

I'm moving on from here, have posted a new blog and have two more in the works. It all seems to come back to rights and privileges, restrictions and entitlements. Those who are suffering continue to get the short end of the stick in all phases of our society.

I wonder how many times in the run-up to the 2020 election, the Republicans will try to label all Democratic candidates as "socialists," as if that were a dirty word. Actually, I don't find that label all that negative when compared to the opposing equivalent that is self-serving greed. But they'll be pounding away with their same old attempt at brain-washing.

Saturday, March 2, 2019
Justin Hale

"At present we're lacking any humane immigration laws." Go tell that to the thousands who immigrate here every year.Tell me Tom what country has a better immigration system than ours?

Our immigration policies should encourage the makers and discourage the takers. I don't know about you Tom, but I don't pay my taxes to support all of the freeloaders who want to suck off of our welfare systems, especially when I see Veterans going without.

"This study is the first in recent years to examine immigrant (legal and illegal) and native welfare use using the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). While its complexity makes it difficult to use, the survey is widely regarded as providing the most accurate picture of welfare participation. The SIPP shows immigrant households use welfare at significantly higher rates than native households, even higher than indicated by other Census surveys."


Sunday, March 3, 2019