Wednesday, August 10, 2016



Note: For those not familiar, Cronkite News is a "news" training op out of ASU in Tempe, AZ.
"In others, sturdy wire mesh or metal pillars end suddenly."
As usual, "immigrant rights" is all about illegal immigrant rights.

Border Patrol erecting new fence in unwalled New Mexico area
Published August 09, 2016 Associated Press

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. – Amid a debate over erecting a new border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.S. Border Patrol said it is finishing an 18-foot-tall steel fence in the last stretch of unwalled, urban borderline in New Mexico.
Officials said the new fencing will run a mile from the bottom of a mesa to the base of tourist attraction of Mount Cristo Rey, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Currently, a run-down, 10-foot-high chain-link fence sits in the area and border patrol agents say it can be easily climbed and offers little protection in the city of Sunland Park. The city sits just west of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The new fence will be made of rust-colored steel columns and is part of an $11 million project authorized by the Bush Administration, the Secure Fence Act of 2006. It will supplant the chain link fencing erected in the 1980s. The new barrier will be reinforced 5 feet underground with steel panels to prevent smugglers from building underground tunnels. "It's a fence that is replacing another fence," Border Patrol spokesman Ramiro Cordero said. "It doesn't hold anymore."
Construction is expected to finish early in 2017.

But the new project is drawing scrutiny from some immigrant rights advocates. Activists hold rallies here and reunions where undocumented Mexicans in the U.S. can meet. For example, on Mexico's Day of the Dead, Nov. 2, advocates hold a binational Mass to honor the migrants who have died trying to cross in the U.S. illegally through the arid desert. "In our opinion, the fencing has not necessarily been a good deterrence for immigration," said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the El Paso-based immigrant advocacy group Border Network for Human Rights. "But it does represent a symbolic response, a very aggressive response, to immigrants and the border community."

A Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News border poll released last month found a majority of urban residents surveyed on both sides of the border are against the building of a wall between the two countries and believe the campaign's tone is damaging relations.

According to the poll, 86 percent of border residents in Mexico and 72 percent of those questioned in the U.S. were against building a wall.
The poll surveyed 1,427 residents in 14 border sister cities to assess attitudes and opinions on the local economy, immigration and border security. It was conducted in April and May.

The issue of the border wall has garnered national attention since GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The U.S.-Mexico border is already lined with intermittent miles of barriers. In some places, a tall fence ascends desert hills. In others, sturdy wire mesh or metal pillars end suddenly.



Note: "There was no fence back then." Correct, for years just a occasional pile of rocks marked the border.

In NM city, border's getting more visible
By Lauren Villagran / Journal Staff Writer - Las Cruces Bureau
Tuesday, August 9th, 2016 at 12:05am

Maria del Refugio Aguilera, who lives in the Anapra neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez, is worried about the new, taller fence being built along the border between Anapra and Sunland Park. A charity group on the U.S. side throws used clothes across the fence for her to sell, and she says that won't be possible anymore. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The border fence comes to an abrupt end in Sunland Park where the city's edge meets the base of rugged Mount Cristo Rey. On one side, Sunland Park. On the other, the Anapra neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez.
Here, the border isn't a political pinball.

It's a place where people live and work, where once there was no fence, just an informal port of entry, and where 18-foot steel columns are replacing a beat-up stretch of chain-link fence. It's not the Bootheel, where there is little fencing and drug runners have moved their routes into deep desert territory, worrying locals.

This border is a crowded place where residents have grown accustomed to the constant patrols by border agents, the whirr of a Customs and Border Protection helicopter overhead, the night chases down their streets, young migrant men in handcuffs on a desert corner.

Here, the border is where politics become three-dimensional.

This is not a story about border security – whether the border is or isn't secure. It's about living and working within a mile of this one small stretch of borderline in New Mexico, nothing more.

Children's game

Ten-year-old Mariano Perez Sanchez is squatting in the sand on the Mexican side in 100-degree heat. He stares at the big construction equipment moving dirt on the U.S. side and the stack of 18-foot steel columns that will soon replace the dilapidated chain-link fence that separates the U.S. from Mexico.

"We have a game," he says, pointing over the border to the pile of columns, "to see who can race there first."
Then with the skill of someone who has done this many times, he takes off running around the end of the fence and into the U.S., then back into Mexico. His 9-year-old brother, Omar, whistles and then bounds over the dunes to join him.

A digger rumbles into the dirt clearing on the U.S. side; the boys race over to it. The driver hands them each two bottles of water and gives Omar 16 pesos, about $1 in change.

Over the years, border agents have told me they sometimes know the kids who live in neighborhoods near the fence. They give them treats, too, nudging them back if they step over the line.

Mariano and Omar run back to their country elated, counting their treasure and gulping the icy cold water.

Here, the border is an imaginary line in a children's game.

Wall 'not the answer'

In March, the National Border Patrol Council – the union that represents about 18,000 border agents and staff nationwide – formally endorsed Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate whose calls for a border wall have been a drumbeat of his campaign.

A group of agents in the El Paso Sector, which includes New Mexico, asked their Local 1929 to vote to stay neutral in the campaign and reject the national union's endorsement. The vote didn't pass.

Border Patrol Agent Giovanni Cisneros patrolled the border at Sunland Park for 10 years before taking a job in the public affairs office. He gave the Journal a tour of the line where the steel fence is replacing the chain-link fence.

From local agents' view, "a solid wall is not the answer," he says. "To us, it's more beneficial to have this mesh fence or the columns, because I want to see through. It's an advantage for officer safety. We can see the other side."

Here, the border is a fence line in the sand daring to be crossed.

U.S. Border Patrol agent Giovanni Cisneros stands near the chain-link fence along the Mexican border in Sunland Park. The fence is being replaced by a taller, sturdier steel fence. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)
U.S. Border Patrol agent Giovanni Cisneros stands near the chain-link fence along the Mexican border in Sunland Park. The fence is being replaced by a taller, sturdier steel fence. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

'Angels' blocked

In Anapra, 70-year-old Maria del Refugio Aguilera lives in a ramshackle home steps from the border.

She came to Ciudad Juárez 25 years ago, she says, before the border was fenced up and locked down. She used to walk into the U.S. to work the local harvests – lettuce, chile – and to clean homes. Then she'd walk back. But that was many years ago.

Her mother and sisters stayed on the U.S. side; she doesn't say whether legally or illegally.

Asked about the new, taller fence, she furrows her brow, says she is worried because a group of churchgoers on the U.S. side – she calls them her "angels" – has been tossing bags of used clothes over the chain-link fence to her for years. She sells the clothes to make a living. "This isn't going to be possible anymore," she says.

Here, the border is a backyard fence that separates a woman from her family and good Samaritan neighbors.

Pickup point

In Sunland Park, Ray Limas runs a mill shop, Artistic Entryways & Millwork Co., less than a mile from the border, that makes ornate doors for custom homes. Big garage doors filter light through the sawdust in the mill; framed images of Jesus hang above the entrance between the mill and a bright, clean showroom.

Limas said he didn't know about the steel columns going in at the border. But he had to put up a taller, sharp-pointed fence around his own property a few years back to deter migrants from trying to hide there. They never caused trouble, he said, but about five years ago his business became a pickup point and it got to be too much.

Once, he found seven guys hanging out under a tree outside his storefront.
"I told them, 'Hey, you guys can't be here.' "
He didn't call the police. The Border Patrol is everywhere, he says, so he doesn't worry about theft.

Here, the border doesn't always stand between a man and a job.

'Speed bump'

The Sunland Park Police Department sits across the street from Limas' millshop. Asked what he thinks about the new border fence, Chief Jaime Reyes tells me, "It is a very politically loaded question."

"People are going to find a way to get where they want to go," he tells me. "I have seen people jump over the fence, climb the fence. They make it seem like the fence isn't there. It doesn't stop them from coming over. It's just a speed bump. We are constantly getting calls: 'There are some people in my backyard; I don't know who they are. There is a group under my house.'"

Later, Reyes tells me, "My mom was one of those people that came across. She came across, and I was born. I guess you could call me an anchor baby. There was no fence back then."

Here, a once invisible border is about to become very visible.


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