Letters 04-20-2000

Documenting Undocumented

The article "Phoenix or Busted" (David Holthouse and Amanda Scioscia, April 6) was well done. I was born and raised in Douglas and my family still resides there. My brother-in-law is the director of the U.S. Customs port of entry there and I am very familiar with "a day in the life" of my hometown.

To say Douglas has been abandoned is an understatement. The town of my family was quiet and ideal. It bragged of monthly touring entertainers for the Community Concerts series, upper-class and upper-middle-class society events, primarily attended by Phelps Dodge executives and others associated with the company, and proud Latino traditions and events. These lost traditions are only small examples of a community whose decline started long ago when Phelps Dodge left and took with it its economic support.

An economy fueled by a state prison and hidden drug trafficking replaced the former, and the community today suffers 20 percent unemployment and the flood of undocumented aliens.

Your most expressive article saddened me because of its truth. Until economic conditions in Mexico change (which probably never will), some place along the U.S. border will suffer. If not my hometown, then someplace else. Thank you for your in-depth review. I feel helpless, but it is a step in the right direction to discuss these issues and inform the public about this deplorable human condition.

Elaine Sweet
Phoenix

It continues to bewilder me how images of terrorizing "aliens" with hoods (cover page image) and "ruthless" smugglers make the news here once again. It is of primary importance to deconstruct the damage that you do.

I am confident the reporters' skills are extraordinary and your consciences are humane, but I am not a Republican, not conservative, but liberal, an activist, and a native of inner-city Los Angeles. Hence, I encourage you not to permit such mess to be printed. You see, the power of print media forms the ideological premises by which misinformed voters make decisions, and knuckleheads make attacks on people of color.

Furthermore, you need, with all due respect, to read up on the history of the "immigrant," specifically the Mexican immigrant, which you focused upon in the article. The Mexican is a human first, not an alien. Second, the Mexicans never crossed the border, but for many, the border crossed them. Third, they come here to work. Many do low-paying, blue-collar and service-sector jobs. The quality of life we all enjoy comes at the expense of the "exploitation" they receive by bosses and the media.

Alan Greenspan notes that immigration is good for our economy. Statistics confirm that immigrants put in more than they take out. Your terminology is so offensive. It is so misleading. It is so unnecessary. The images are distorted -- and paint most Hispanics as subhuman. Your intent was infotainment -- to entice the reader to read on, to grab New Times. I understand, but there are people who continue to be subverted under the haste of intentional, racist, dehumanizing tactics via the visual image and the written word. I expect your understanding. I encourage your look into the realities of the immigrant's history in Southwest, and the Mexican people in general.

I will encourage a boycott among my peers of New Times if change is not imminent.

Juan F. Carrillo
Arizona State University West

Illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States has become so commonplace in Phoenix that many of us have forgotten how perilous the journey here can be for Mexican nationals. What piqued my interest in "Phoenix or Busted," however, was not the sheer number of illegal aliens who are returned to Mexico every day, nor the ruthless tactics of the coyote smugglers. Rather, in comparing the Mexican aliens' plight to the case of Elian Gonzalez, I found the disparity in American deportation tactics quite ironic. Most Mexican immigrants leave their country in search of better wages and a more stable economy. They see moving to the United States, albeit illegally, as their only hope of an optimistic financial future for themselves and their families. The Cuban immigrants who brave the violent weather of the Florida Keys are in almost the same predicament. Money is even scarcer than in Mexico and the economic horizon is more desperate.

Elian's mother left Cuba in the hopes of finding a better life for herself and a brighter future for Elian. If Elian and his mother had come from Mexico instead of Cuba, would it have taken this long for Elian to be returned to his father's custody? It seems obvious that the answer must be no. The boy would be deported as an illegal and returned to his father in Mexico before the press could even be involved.

Jeff Sanger
Mesa

I knew illegal immigration was bad, but, phew, the only way out I see is for someone to start filing lawsuits against the federal government, with high-profile lawyers to get the national media attention, to acquire the manpower to protect our borders. I do believe there is a constitutional command to have our borders protected. Start filing suits.

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