ILLEGAL Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone (Chapter 6)

Editor's Note: As a staff writer forPhoenix New Times, award-winning journalist Terry Greene Sterling reported for years on the political brawls and human tragedies that have made Arizona the epicenter for the national immigration debate. Sterling is now a contributor for The Daily Beast, and Writer-in-Residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her stories have appeared inThe Washington Post, Newsweek.com, salon.com, andThe Nieman Narrative Digest, among other publications. Her first book,ILLEGAL: Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone, from which this chapter is excerpted, tells the stories of unauthorized immigrants stubbornly hunkering down in the Phoenix area, and their friends and foes. Sterling is your tour guide into the shadows, where people hope, live, pray, work, sin and die in the city that begat the harshest immigration laws in the nation.

The book is for sale here and at all major bookstores and amazon.com.

Sterling tweets @tgsterling and blogs about immigration in Arizona at terrygreenesterling.com

A DAY LATE, A DOLLAR SHORT

Mexican immigrants patronized the dollar store. So did crack addicts and a child molester. Why didn't the owners call the police?

It didn't take me long to learn Inocencio was a prankster. One day in the spring of 2010, when I visited his dollar store in central Phoenix, he dared and cajoled me to eat a fried grasshopper.

He had brought a Tupperware tub full of the crisp, salted brown insects, called chapulines, into the store for his lunch, along with tortillas he'd made earlier in the morning. Inocencio was forty-three years old, and had resided in the United States for more than two decades. He knew Anglos didn't eat grasshoppers.

Which was exactly why he wanted me to eat one.

“They are delicious,” he said.

He set the Tupperware on the counter. The large fat grasshoppers, he said, were females, and tasted better than the smaller males. He warned me to pull the legs off before popping the bugs in my mouth because the legs sometimes got caught in the throat, like splinters.

I was going to do this thing.

So, I selected a male grasshopper—less to eat—and put fifty cents on the counter for a cold can of Coke to wash the grasshopper down. With a grin on his face, Inocencio gave me to the count of three in Spanish: Uno! Dos! Tres! I must have had a funny expression on my face when I placed the weightless bug on my tongue and forced myself to chew.

Inocencio exploded into giggles. His wife, Araceli, who rarely smiled, laughed so hard she could barely take my picture with my iPhone camera.

Actually, the grasshopper wasn’t bad. It tasted clean and slightly salty.

Inocencio told me his parents had brought the grasshoppers from southern Mexico during one of their visits to Arizona. The bugs were high in protein and low in fat, ideal for Inocencio, who’d been dieting and had just lost about forty pounds. His once-tight golf shirt and khakis now hung loose on his short frame, and that made him happy.

On this particular morning, Inocencio sat on a stool near the cash register. Araceli puttered in the stock room. I stood on the other side of a glass counter that contained highly-desirable merchandise that might be stolen: Tall cans of spray paint (the kind used on freeway overpasses and freight trains) Hannah Montana toys, men’s cologne, manicure kits, women’s perfumes, CDs by the popular norteño group, Los Tigres del Norte. Other items that might be shoplifted – phone cards, batteries, Tylenol, Alka-Seltzer Plus, prophylactics, pregnancy test kits, CD players, more Hannah Montana toys, makeup, lighters, cigarettes – were displayed behind the glass counter or on the walls above the cash register, where Inocencio could keep an eye on them.

About every ten minutes or so, Inocencio would ring up a customer’s purchase – a Monster drink, a small bag of Cheetos, a couple of packs of Marlboros, a bicycle lock, a bag of white socks, a dozen eggs, a pound of rice.

One jittery man purchased a Bic lighter and a glass tube, which I figured he’d soon use as a crack pipe.

Inocencio wore an inscrutable expression on his face when he took the jittery man’s money. The man hurried out of the store. I asked, but Inocencio didn’t want to speculate about why customers bought the glass tubes. All he would volunteer was that he bought the tubes at Phoenix wholesale houses. “They’re legal,” he noted. He kept them behind the counter. They were made in China, and each held a tiny paper flower, called a “Love Rose.” They are sold in convenience stores and small shops all over Phoenix.

Inocencio charged a dollar for each Love Rose tube that had cost him a quarter. That’s a 75 percent markup.

Crack addicts hadn’t done him any favors. Addict whores promenaded on the street in front of his store in the evenings.

He’d been robbed twice, burglarized once, by people he assumed were addicts.

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84 comments
WinstonSmith
WinstonSmith

I have a hobby. Every Wednesday I drive around to the locations in my neighborhood that have New Times stands and I openly take the entire stack of freshly printed papers and pile them in my car. After a couple hours I usually gather about 500 papers or so (total guess on my part, I have never bothered to count). I then take them to the first dumpster I find and throw them in. I call it my personal BOYCOTT. I know it isn't much, but I take heart in the knowledge that I am doing my part to take down the mindless PC-propaganda machine that is called the New Times. If you are like me, and you are sick to death of the hateful extremist bullshit that is constantly streaming out of this paper I encourage you to do the same thing. Every time you see a New Times stand take all the papers in the stand and throw them away. Together we can force the editors of the New Times to go back to the good old "Entertainment" reporting they used to engage in. Otherwise we will simply bury them. Either way works for me.

Pamfila
Pamfila

My birth certificate was stolen by a person who assists illegals to cross the border; just show that birth certificate to the border police who has no photo on that birth certificate and allows the illegal to pass through in USA....upon going to the county records of birth, no identification was required...just sign under penalty of perjury...just complete and sign a request for the birth certificate...very simple and pay $14...Upon asking is that the only requirement? Answer, "Yes." and bingo you are given a birth certificate....why isn't this looked into??????????

Pamfila
Pamfila

Nobody has explained that stealing license plate stickers, which belong to American people who work, comply with traffic laws, by illegal persons who do not want to be pulled over by an officer who does not stop that car when he/she has the current stolen registration numbers...nobody has explained that this is against the law; nobody is giving information about the phone radios bought by people who defend illegal persons and can listen to private American citizens' telephone conversations so that they are ahead of ICE and office of Immigration law enforcement...those phone radios should be illegal because they can be bought at electronic stores; yeah, it is one thing to say that illegal aliens, "the poor thing needs to survive," What happened to the unemployment law which states that a person must be available for work while collecting unemployment, staying in their country while their relative can send them their unemployment checks; what happened to investigations into how easy it is to go to a county birth records and require intensive proof in order to obtain someone else's birth certificate (which was stolen or bought)...that is how easy it is for an illegal to go to such offices with another piece of document, i.e. driver license, ssi #, all stolen or bought.................

Yolanda Miranda
Yolanda Miranda

Very good article informing what most people prefer not to see.Just as millions prefered not to see for a long time what holocaust was happening to the Jews.Give too much power to law enforcement and see what's going to happen.It won't be AMERICA THE LAND OF THE FREE anymore. Law enforcement in Arizona already started to abuse their power not only with illegals but with anglos too. But America wants that for their children. Newer laws will come after this one wanting ALL CITIZENS to get a permit to travel from city to city, yeah, Arpaio, Brewer, Pierce and others are bringing communism to America and people are so blind with hate towards illegals that don't even notice what's happening.Every American is about to loose the freedom, we need people with clear vision like Susan Bolton to stop it before it's too late.

Chrys
Chrys

as much as i could care less for sheriff joe, the man is doing his job. which the united states constitution allows him to do section 8 1373 & 1644 gives locals the right to look in to ones immigration status and than theres 287g which allows him the right to take them in. ICE refers to 287g as “one of the Agency's most successful and popular partnership initiatives as more state and local leaders have come to understand how a shared approach to immigration enforcement can benefit their communities. no matter what bolton's ruling was. besides why are people fighting so hard to protect illegals... they come here and live a terrible life style. they have no benefits, never knowing if they are going to be taken in to custody... traveling with coyotes who have ) concern for them as people and rape and beat them. i know most of mexico is just a trashy place to live in general, i mean we all want our heads intact. but seriously come over the right way and make something good of yourself. a REAL JOB not teenager work.... or terrible pay to do some job you would be banking it on...

Sarum
Sarum

Why don't you have any feelings or concern for displaced citizens whose hardship has been directly caused by the downward spiral of wages due to illegal immigration? Why do you support the US giving everything to everyone BUT the citizen? How long do you expect this Ponzi scheme to play out?

We are paying to train people all over the planet while ours remain untrained and/or unemployed? Is that fair? Is it moral to take our collective monies and help someone else when we ourselves are suffering?Sri Lanka

http://www.informationweek.com...

Armenia:

http://www.informationweek.com...

Or "Are the American People Obsolete?"

http://www.salon.com/news/feat...

Yes you fail to show "Life & Death" and "War Zone" for illegals but citizens have been feeling it for decades. Yea, and I was raised a RDDB but common sense showed me that propagandists like yourself would have been sent to the Gulag in the USSR and common sense is what woke me up and common sense tells me that people like you contribute to the Balkanization of the United States - but then, you are probably rich enough to just fly away when there is nothing but chaos and extreme poverty left.

bishop
bishop

OMG finally an end to this insipid writing. Eight pages of nothing. Nothing

Sixcube
Sixcube

I'm calling bullshiznit on the writer of this article. What DOLLAR STORE sells Marlboros? Or Monster energy drinks, for that matter. Nice try.

Ted
Ted

You hatred is showing Baresterns! Why don't you stupid hate mongers focus on the crimes committed by Arpaio? You dim bulbs have payed out 50 millions of your tax dollars to settle the law suits so far and there are a couple thousand more in the pipeline. If you enjoy watching that fat thug and his goons murder people, you are truly sick pups. Why don't you realize that the corruption in Mexico is just one of the reasons people are forced to trek through the desert, another is starvation because of NAFTA.

Chrys
Chrys

chandler rapist... arpaio and babeu having death threats on their heads for doing their job (which they have the right to do under the constitution and why they continue to do so). sheriffs dying out there. both sides our playing dirty but one has law on the side.

American
American

Americans have had 3 major wars in this country Ted to have what we have... Why don't you Mexicans go home and clean up your s--t hole, huh!?

guest
guest

Nice little propaganda speech

Ted
Ted

Sarum, your just a flat out liar!

Ted
Ted

Sarum, you are beyond belief. You talk more nonsense than all the other loons. Where do you "learn" all this goofy nonsense, the National Enquirer?

Ted
Ted

Maybe Sarum if you worked as hard as the mexicans you could buy some of those things they aquired by work. But no, you whine and cry about how mistreated your sorry little ass is. You are just plain disgusting you little weasel.

Sarum
Sarum

Hey, I am all about restitution to displaced citizens and reparations for the death of the American Dream as well. I am not a liar but I am given a voice for those who do not have one - the displaced citizen. And in my life I have routinely worked harder than any of my Mexican co-workers. They have to replace me with 3 people when I leave. And guess what? My Mexican husband is my biggest supporter! What is sorry is how our government chooses to mistreat hardworking taxpaying citizens. Corexit anyone? Do you trust your mesquite pickins this year? Also sorry is that the George Soros Open Borders KGB NWO globalist types have Balkanized the Brains of the American people and that you are fried enough to fall for it.

Ted
Ted

When are you loons going to wake up to the fact that Glenn Beck and the hate machine lie to you? What incredibly stupid morons you fools are!

Ted
Ted

Another ass talker! Why you poor mistreated white boy. What an incredibly stupid whiner.

Ted
Ted

You're talking out your ass Pleasant Demise. Do some researh before making such a ridiculous statement.

Ssorian
Ssorian

Inocencio charged a dollar for each Love Rose tube that had cost him a quarter. That’s a 75 percent markup.

Mateonelson
Mateonelson

no that is a 300 percent mark up, however it is a 75 cent profit

ED
ED

no shit

Janet_p10
Janet_p10

It is very funny because "YOU" people talk so much about ILLEGALS AND INMIGRANTS when you reffer to US "MEXICANS" to leave the STATES, but what you dont understand is that we are NEVER leaving. You say it is not discrimination but "it is" because you are based on the color on our skin and what a "mexican" looks like. You need to realize us "MEXICANS" are hard working people who only care in working and making money to support the family. We take the jobs that you wont see a "white person" working in like subway, mcdonalds. BK, ect... and any other fast food restaurant or a carwash. But yet you people like to eat "carne asada tacos" or "enchiladas" or any other kind of "MEXICAN" food. Mexicans are here to work and support and live a better life. Instead of arresting innocent Mexican people go arrest the homeless who do not do a thing but drink, do drugs, and beg for money they are useless when they are healthy but dont want to get a job because they are lazy bumbs. WE MEXICANS ARE HERE TO STAY!!!!

Bishkip
Bishkip

I, like many are glad you are here to stay. But why won't you stay as legal Americans...you so totally insist on being totally Mexican...you won't assimilate into the rest of American culture...that's why your only jobs are those of back breaking labor. Go ahead be Mexican, keep your language mow the white mans lawns and clean their houses...its all you will ever do as.

Mateonelson
Mateonelson

you are confusing the issue, the issue is about illegal immigrants. The way you are saying this is the sb1070 will require all mexicans to leave, however it is only for illegal immigrants to leave. The legal mexicans are here to stay, but the illegals have got to go.

ED
ED

hell yea!!!!!

Riku Sora
Riku Sora

Shut up Bitch!! My sister who is WHITE work's at a BK as a manager you stupid Mexican trash box!!

ED
ED

FUK U AND UR SISTER HILL BILLY

ignorance is bliss
ignorance is bliss

hmm nice language. I agree lots of white ppl work in air conditioned fast food restaurants. Why don't we see them picking lettuce in 100+ degree weather? You do know there is a government agricultuaral website available now for anyone looking for work. Mostly minimum wage to about $10hr. They are monitoring it to see how many legal ppl will apply for the THOUSANDS of jobs that will not be taken by the normal illegal workers. BTW whatever jobs are not filled will be given to Mexicans with guest worker visas. But I would like to see your sister out there.... or maybe you. Just one day... then maybe you wont be so nasty. But ignorant idiots usually are... nasty. Hmmm wonder if you have any family on welfare... bet you do.

ED
ED

great

ED
ED

HAHA i agree.greta comment

MindRapeHa
MindRapeHa

ROFL! I like your comment. I bet she has (healthy, good to work) family members on welfare.

PleasantDemise
PleasantDemise

Riku Sora, you can't communicate well or am an imbecile, and the 1 person who 'liked' your comment is an idiot.

blissful ignorance, link?

Ls 2727
Ls 2727

some people are just never satisfied, STOP and look around and see who's doing all the work for you guys MEXICANS are. you are not going to see your kind cooking for you or mowing your lawn for the same $$$.there are tones of illegal’s mex, chin, African amer, can, ect, but the Mexicans are the only ones getting picked on, why maybe they are too good for some people to deal with. why not do something about the homeless asking for money on the streets.

Sarum
Sarum

That is because the citizens that had those jobs and wanted to keep them have been ignored, ridiculed and marginalized. Think about it. It is much more comfortable to have an underclass that is a different race, language and culture than to have your cousins' daughter as your personal maid and have to pay her a decent wage for it too.

PleasantDemise
PleasantDemise

"...not going to see your kind cooking..."'your kind'?? That is bigotry.Most people will get angry, logical people will dismiss you as unobjective. Either way, you're not going to be listened to but by other bigots. I don't say this to be rude, I say this so you can learn and better communicate. A democratic republic (such as the USA) is highly dependent on ALL sides being able to communicate well. Otherwise, we get idiots like Andrew Thomas and Arpiao.

"STOP and look around and see who's doing all the work for you guys MEXICANS are"No, actually, there are plenty of small landscaping companies owned and operated by 'my kind'. One of my friends does that, actually. Looking around is good advice, but be sure you do the same.For the record, my family has done concrete for decades in AZ. That includes me and all of my brothers.

"the Mexicans are the only ones getting picked on"I could see "Hispanics being singled out" as true, but not "picked on" by the populace at large. But let's keep in mind that Hispanics comprise a HALF of all naturalized citizens, add in the illegal immigrants and the ratio is obviously much higher. Thus Hispanics are by far the majority, while whites (say, from Canada) are a minority.

"why not do something about the homeless asking for money on the streets. "Red Herring, and yes, there are people working on that, too.

Guest
Guest

God did not create borders...... Humans did......

Csimps28
Csimps28

and im so glad they did create borders. close them we have enough problems of our own

Guest
Guest

Too all of you that are just saying..... the illegals should just get there fill out the paperwork... I have a question for you... do you really understand the process... money and time... it takes the process.... 5-10 years and the waiting list is crazy..... so until you walk in the shoes... maybe you should do the research before you open your mouth......

PleasantDemise
PleasantDemise

The USA naturalized more citizens every year than every other country COMBINED.

ex supporter of illegal aliens
ex supporter of illegal aliens

There are 2 billion people on this planet who get by on $2/day. We are not obligated to let each and every one of them into America just because they are poor. There is no overnight cure for poverty but there is one that is extremely effective. It's called 'birth control'.

Dreamer441984
Dreamer441984

I have three family members that have used that process. And just because it's difficult does not give a person the right to enter a nation illegally.

Morgensencynthia
Morgensencynthia

Yes it does and many, many people have done just that. What part of "Illegal" don't you people get? When American citizens do anything illegal we have to pay fines, go to court or even prison. Why should they be different? The so called documents they have to produce if stopped are a drivers liciense, if in a car, registration and insurance. That's it. Guess what, so do I !! The only difference between an American and the illegals is that they get all the welfare and free hospital care that they want. Me, I am white and couldn't get it if I tried which by the way many years ago I did and was denied because my address was Scottsdale and I was white.

MindRapeHa
MindRapeHa

To my understanding the whites and blacks are the ones with the most people on welfare. Now I understand some people really need it. But come on when they're using that money to buy playstation3s and big screen t.vs I wonder wtf is the gov.t giving free handouts for! A person that's able to work should work. My family and I drive by the freeways and all I see are crack head white/black people begging for money. Can you explain that to me please? And don't say something ridiculous as "its cuz dem messicans took they jobs". Please!

RedneckMexican
RedneckMexican

I personally couldn't give a damn about what other people have or don't have. Quit caring, quit worrying, and release the pettiness of "rage"...

MindRapeHa
MindRapeHa

AHCCCS to my understanding is given to "AMERICAN BORN" people. And yeah I get where your coming from and its pretty effed up. But Hispanics do pay taxes no matter what anyone says. But like I say a person should only be given help once they've asked for it for no more than a year. After that you're on your own. Starve or not that's on you. The U.S gov.t should do something like that, set a limit to how long a person can live off of them and then cut them off. Also the country wouldn't be where its at if the "Iraq/Afghanistan" war hadn't happened. The U.S shouldn't help countries when they do stupid shit. The U.S should help the American people and fix all the crap that's going on inside its own country. Instead of donating millions to fix what other countries fuck up.

Sarum
Sarum

In my neighborhood there are welfare moms with cars to die for and the minor kids all have big screen TVs in their rooms. We don't. This disparity also causes great rage in people.

Sarum
Sarum

The government considers Hispanics as whites. Check it out.

Sarum
Sarum

Ooops - sorry the second link is for DEAD PEASANTS POLICIES - you can google it yourself and get more reading than you want. Employers do it all the time but since the government OWNS you they can do it too and you will never know. Employers don't tell you either. http://moneycentral.msn.com/co...

Sarum
Sarum

There are charities and churches who help illegal Mexicans exclusively. People are very prejudice against Americans who are down on their luck. They want to believe that everybody has had equal opportunity to better themselves and if they have not succeeded at it by now - oh well, too bad, we are done with that sector of our population. You can go die under a bridge somewhere because we are trading you out for these new people. In the hospitals charities give illegals baby seats so they can legally take their babies out of the hospital yet working poor citizens cannot afford them and nobody helps them either. At DES the illegals have the $500 baby carriages that working poor cannot afford and other DES clients also are not given. They also do not have to wait like everybody else - they have an appointment with an interpreter and they breeze right through with their princess clothing, hair right from the salon and freshly done nails that real poor people cannot afford. Places like "Friendly House" cater solely to the illegal Spanish speakers and do so with United Way funds that they solicit fraudulently because they do not tell the givers that they are only for Spanish speaking immigrants.

If you are a roofer, construction worker, drywall company that has been put out of business because the illegals that underbid you were supported by AHCCS and foodstamps and welfare section 8 while you had to pay benefits to your citizen employees - oh well - too bad - we are trading you out for the illegals permanently.

Now if the illegals could acknowledge the harm they have caused to citizens in this economic manner and open a dialogue perhaps we could come to some agreement but they just demand demand demand and our government just caves in and tells the media to call us racist and their is no dialogue, no negotiation - just adding insult to injury.

So I have come to the conclusion that the intent of the government is blood in the streets. See, for you new to the US that may not be familiar with our politics - in this country when there is a bad economy a Democrat always takes us to war. This time we are already at war and we are too poor to start another. So since the government OWNS you http://www.viewzone.com/collat... , now they can take out PEASANT POLICIES on you, http://www.viewzone.com/collat... , and since everything the government and the government media complex is doing is only to make this situation worse rather than resolve it they are pushing the people to Civil War and they will make their fortune over us killing each other in the streets. I wish that the illegals would wake up to what is really happening and what they are being "useful idiots" for. We must refuse to be pushed into this option.

 
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