By T.J. Woodard
Being an avid AT reader, and living on the Arizona border in Cochise County,
I thought I would provide those who wish to be informed some insight into
the truth about the state of the U.S.-Mexican border -- at least in this
part of the state.
I moved to Cochise County after retiring from the Army in 2008 to take a
position working at Fort Huachuca (pronounced "wa-choo-ka," an Apache word
meaning "place of thunder" and referring to the time after the summer
monsoon season). Having lived here in 1991 for eight months while attending
an Army school, I soon realized that the place had changed considerably in
the eighteen years of my absence.
The first thing I noticed was how many border patrol vehicles were on the
roads in the city of Sierra Vista. The Border Patrol has a large station
near here in the city of Naco. There are far more Border Patrol vehicles in
the area than SV police cars. They come in many forms -- trucks for off-road
work, trailers carrying all-terrain vehicles, pickups with capacity for
carrying large numbers of people once apprehended, and even a staff car for
the area chaplain. The Border Patrol presence has grown substantially, so
one would think the border area was nice and safe.
Not so. Within a short time after arriving in southern Arizona while on my
way to work, I noticed eight illegal immigrants on the side of the road.
Fortunately, they were in the custody of capable and attentive Border Patrol
agents. Unfortunately, they were less than a hundred feet from my daughter's
bus stop. She gets personal service to school now, as the school district
refuses to enter the gated community in which we live. There is a nice wash,
a valley into which the rainwater drains during the monsoons, which provides
a nice route for the illegal’s to follow into the city, and therefore into
their locations for pickup by the vehicles that will get them farther north.
Later, after I attended a movie on a Friday night, a car passed by me in the
next lane going nearly a hundred miles an hour. It took a few seconds before
I saw the police behind -- way behind -- with lights and sirens, trying to
catch up. Surprise, surprise -- the next morning's paper discussed a Mexican
drug runner being caught by County Sheriff's Deputies. On several occasions,
the Border Patrol's helicopter has flown low and slow over the neighborhood,
rattling windows and shining its spotlight in our backyard. When this
happens, I strap on my pistol, grab a flashlight, and look and listen.
Fortunately, I haven't found anybody within a hundred yards of the house --
Working on a U.S. Army fort, one would think we were fairly secure from
these threats. Just not true. Reading the Fort Huachuca newspaper one
morning, I noticed an interesting part of the "community" page. It asked for
volunteers to assist in cleaning up "dumps" on posts where the illegals
would drop their supplies used to cross the border and change clothing. They
do this in order to blend in and not look like they just spent a day or two
crossing the border in the dust and heat of southern Arizona. The most
frightening part of this is that Fort Huachuca is the U.S. Army Intelligence
Center, where the Army trains its intelligence soldiers -- analysts,
interrogators, radio intercept specialists, and counterintelligence agents
-- for operations overseas. If we can't secure the fort we use to train our
intelligence soldiers, how can we secure anything else?
Good job to our fine MPs!
Much has been discussed about the new law in Arizona making it unlawful to
be in Arizona in violation of federal immigration statutes. However, much
less has been discussed about the shooting of rancher Robert Krentz. Robert
was killed on his ranch on March 28, 2010. His ranch, on which the family
began grazing cattle in 1907 (Arizona became a state in 1912), is a large,
35,000-acre area in remote Cochise County. It is so remote that the original
Cochise, an Apache leader, used the mountainous terrain near it to hide from
the U.S. Cavalry in the early 1870s. But much less is being said about the
eight illegal immigrants and their load of 280 pounds of marijuana seized