Tuesday, August 23, 2005

For One Family, Front Row Seats to Border Crisis

COLUMBUS, N.M., Aug. 17 - If James Johnson were any closer to Mexico, he would be in it.
And if there is a front line in the border crisis stretching from California to Texas, it may be the 14 miles of wide open boundary that the Johnson clan shares with their Mexican counterparts to the south. As many as 500 immigrants a day use their ranch and farmland as a welcome mat, they say, with bandits and smuggling guides making some areas too dangerous to visit. Fences have been torn down, they say, crops pilfered and cattle watering tanks fouled with human waste.
Every day, just feet from their property, old school buses and vans with windows blacked out disgorge luggageless passengers who disappear into the derelict Mexican village of Las Chepas and re-emerge on distant hills sloping back down on the American side."There goes another busload," Mr. Johnson, 30, said as an approaching gray van boiled a cloud of dust on a Mexican gravel road almost within touching distance, then rolled out of sight. "They'll be passing my place tonight."...Often thought of as a federal or international concern, illegal immigration has reached such a pace along parts of the border that officials are now expressing fear for the people who live and work there. On Aug. 12, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, citing the kidnapping of three immigrants by bandits on the Johnsons' land, declared a disaster in four counties he described as "devastated by the ravages and terror of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, murder, destruction of property and death of livestock." Several days later, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona followed suit....


Blogger NYgirl said...

What a story!

7:54 PM  

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