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A Place Called

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A Place Called 
arivaca, az

Arivaca, AZ is a small town just above the Mexico border that mostly wants to be left alone.  Recently, however, it has become a proving ground for the Bush regime's get tough immigration policy.

Producer West Ruck documents some of the local residents and their experiences with the Border Patrol along with activists trying to address the onslaught of ham fisted policies being implemented on our frontier with Mexico.

Shanti Sellz / No More Deaths Resident subjected to false arrest Jennifer Allen / Dir Border Action Network
Shanti Sellz
No More Deaths
Facing 15 years / 
$500k fine
Arivaca resident
Complaint against Border Patrol for
false arrest
Jennifer Allen /
Border Action

No More Deaths volunteers Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss are facing federal charges of alien smuggling for transporting severely dehydrated immigrants found in the desert to a Tucson hospital.  An Arivaca resident recounts a harrowing experience with the Border Patrol on trumped up charges of drug possession and Jennifer Allen, Director of Border Action Network and object of scorn of Minuteman aligned groups, cites BAN's efforts to alter immigration and border policy to respect US and Mexican citizen's rights.

Underlying this, the SBI - Secure Borders Initiative - is the program developed by the Bush regime supposedly tasked, primarily, with keeping out terrorists and, incidentally, stemming the tide of undocumented workers coming to America because US free trade policies have disrupted their local economies.  Terrorism is the primary justification because only it can stir the fear necessary to cow not just the American people - most of whom have overcome their post 911 shock and now want an end to the war in Iraq - but the Congress and any candidate for significant office because of their fear that failing to align with Bush will leave them vulnerable to accusations when, not if, a subsequent assault by terrorists occurs.

But the larger question here is how much of our freedom are we, a country of 300 milliion people, willing to surrender in fear of criminal acts by a small number of people affecting a comparably small percentage of our population?  While terrorist acts may be horrendous viewed apart, they are not a threat to our essential secuity, much less our survival.  Compared to the accustomed uncertainties of life such as illness, accidents, crime, disasters or other chance occurences, the impact of terrorism - other than its highly exploited psychological impact - would be minimal by any reasonable estimate.

On the other hand, the deliberate and "reasoned" policies of our government affect millions and result in death for tens of thousands of Americans annually.  Decisons and policies resulting in lack of health care, effects of pollution, lack of effective workplace safety laws and enforcement, transportaion policies, and a host of others are routinely made where the concerns for the economy, the wealthy and corporate interests trump conditions that result in an increased number of deaths for our citizens at very high levels.  Despite improvements in auto safety, over 40,000 Americans continue to die annually in car crashes.  In the medical/industrial complex, depending on criteria, from 50,000 to 200,000 die annually in hospitals due to medical errors and prevenatble causes.  These are only two examples and the list is extensive.  Terrorists have a long way to go to catch up with these figures.

The human element of the SBI includes hundreds of additional Border Patrol, Customs, and Homeland Security agents and thousands of national guard troops spread along the frontier from Tiajuana to the Gulf of Mexico.  A much more aggressive posture by all the government's agents is the new policy and the Border Patrol are the first line of offense.  Like torture in secret prisons, their increased aggression, indiscriminate intrusions, trampling of constitutional rights and profiling are all considered by the Bush Regime as justified in the "post 911" environment.

The rugged terrain of the region makes the planned 700 mile border fence a security planner's fantasy so an additonal plan for a high tech "electronic fence" is being implemented in the Arivaca area.  Several high tech towers with radar, night vision and cameras that can zoom in on targets within 9 miles are being implemented.  Arivaca itself is within their range so be careful where you scratch.  Having the capability to zoom in on public places, your back yard or even in a window essentially negates the 4th amendment against unwarranted searches.  And these are just the things we know about.  Add to this high altitude helium airship spy stations and global hawk type unmanned reconnaisance drones and, well... Welcome to the security state.

If that's not enough, consider that the border fence is an environmental disaster in the making that would bisect migratory routes and degrade necessary habitat for dozens of endangered and threatened species and increased vehiclar traffic by government agencies, including ATVs, will have long lasting negative impacts on fragile desert ecology.

Click here to watch or here to listen to the program.

Click here for Washington Post article on Arivaca SBI spy towers
Click here for
Wikipedia entry on Arivaca, AZ
Click here for
IRC article on enviro impact of border fence
Click here for
No More Deaths
Click here for
Border Links
Click here for
Border Action Network