Tuesday June 18, 2013
Op-Ed Anti-Immigration Movement a Smokescreen Against Bigger ProblemsOp-Ed By: Tim King Salem-News.com
(SALEM) - A small boy attending the immigration rally at the state capitol Sunday, held up a sign that simply said, `Please don`t separate me from my family- Jordan." Honestly, I am appalled that the U.S. government and its citizens could place somebody like Jordan in a position like that. It goes against the grain of everything that is moral and right. People at the rally like one young girl named Gyselle, told me that she feels like a criminal now because of her heritage. `We`re not criminals, we`re just looking for a better way of life." Each person that I passed, spoke with, or encountered at the rally was helpful and kind. It was an interesting example of what it is like to walk among those most heavily criticized. What do I know about Hispanic/Caucasian relations? You have no idea; I was raised in Huntington Park, California, a serious gangland very close to downtown Los Angeles. I half jokingly tell people that I responded to `white boy" much more quickly than I did to my own name. It was tough being a white kid growing up there but I made it, and the experience allows me to understand the true reversal of what these people feel today as a part of the minority population in Oregon. I also spent close to two years in the mid-90s working as a photojournalist/reporter for KYMA, the NBC station in Yuma, Arizona that that sits literally on the border of four states; Arizona and California, and Sonora and Baja California, Mexico. Here I went on many TV news forays into Mexico and I learned much more about the Mexican culture. It was during this time that I became familiar with the Marshal of Wellton, Arizona, a small town of 1,800 close toâ€¦ well, nowhere really. Wellton is in the Sonora desert located along Interstate-8 which runs north of the U.S.-Mexico border, about 10 miles east of Yuma. A few months before I had first met him, the Marshal told me about having to recover the bodies of over 20 people in the desert who had tried to cross the border in the summertime. This is a region where summer temperatures can easily reach 115 degrees or higher. People are led into bad situations by those referred to as `coyotes" and often left to perish. I`ll never forget how that lack of humanity sat with the Marshal of Wellton. You see, many people who work in law enforcement along the Mexican border are married to women who are Hispanic, and many more, especially Border Patrol agents themselves, and Mexican-American. Here in Oregon it might be easy to imagine angry Border Patrol agents running down illegal crossers, but few are cruel, at least from what I saw. And to qualify that, I spent many days and nights doing stories with the U.S. Border Patrol along the border. Once I went out with an agent in a Chevy Blazer with a huge boom that emerged from the roof with an infra-red camera mounted at the top. We watched the screen and tried to distinguish people from animals, notifying agents who stood by to swoop in on ATV`s in case we spotted anybody. We didn`t see anyone that night, and the agents and I spent a fairly quiet evening hiding in the bushes a couple of hundred yard from Mexico. Many people who cross the border are dangerous, that is a fact, but maybe if they weren`t lumped in with honest people who go to great lengths to seek an improved life for their children, the whole program would be safer. I could go on forever, I just hope that people are open-minded and realize that the border has been no priority until recently, all of a sudden, here comes something to deflect the public`s thinking away from a failing presidency and a war built around false information, that continues to claim many lives, with no end in sight. The cost involved in recreating the Great Wall of China on the U.S./Mexican border isn`t realistic, just another huge waste of government funds while poor people starve and try to scrape by without medical care. Don`t let the information strategists in Washington D.C. do their dirty work without feedback. For example, the United States illegally deported more than 400,000 people to Mexico during the Great Depression. Many were here legally. People were yanked from their homes, not even allowed in cases to show paperwork proving they were born in the United States. We must be alert and aware. Shameful racist behavior should be not be tolerated, it isn`t what this great immigrant-based nation is all about.
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