Thursday, March 02, 2006
Military On the Border
Here's a photo that was taken while we were out legal observing in October. It's the National Gaurd driving down the highway through Hachita, New Mexico.
The photo is very relevant today seeing how there is a great deal of talk about putting the National Gaurd on the border. Of course the vigilantes have been crying for the National Gaurd for quite some time, but nonetheless I was quite shocked when Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (D) called for putting the National Gaurd on the border in her State of the State Speech.
Certainly the Governor had some good plans, like charging vehicles with low emissions less to register their vehicles (which makes me wonder how much the Governor's plan would make the tank pay for tags to drive down Highway 80 in Arizona), but calling for placing the National Gaurd on the border was an ill-designed attempt to gather points for her political career. As a Governor with high ambitions to become a National figure, she is certainly taking great advantage of the recent increase in paranoia and fear related to our southern border.
Timothy Dunn points out that the doctrine of low-intensity conflict has come home in his book 'The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border.' It appears now that the Governor and other anti-immigrants have gone beyond low-intensity conflict and are calling for an all out war.
The impact of Gov. Napolitano's call for the National Gaurd goes beyond bad border policy and demonstrates how our society is quick to see aggressiveness and possible violence as a solution to just about any problem. Whether it be the military-industrial complex or the prison industrial complex, we are quick to use punishment or force as a tool of social control. There are over 2 million people in U.S. prisons and jails, per capita we incarcerate more people then any country on the planet. Last year alone we spent $7.3 billion dollars on border-related expenses and now have more sensors, fences, armed agents, helicopters, and cameras on our border then we ever have in the history of our nation.
Certainly there are also practical reasons one would not want the National Gaurd on the border. I remember stopping late one night and seeing a group of about 20 migrants being held approximately 30 yards from one of the tanks. I slowed my car and was going to get out to talk to the migrants when someone in complete camoflauge came running over with a very mean scowl on their face. Before I could explain myself I was told by G.I. Joe to, "get the hell out of here." Seeing as he had the tank and the guns I decided to drive along.
The demeanor of this individual was something I had never seen before. With his military fatigues, guns, tanks, and other high powered equipment he was not simply playing war, he was in a war. The fact that he was on U.S. soil and was only a few miles from a city made no difference to him.
Say what you want about Border Patrol, but at least there primary training is not to kill. I have run into plenty of rude, racists, and angry Border Patrol Agents, but for the most part I have not got the sense from them that they think they are in a war zone.
On May 20, 1997 Ezekiel Hernandez was murdered by a U.S. Marine. The Marines were working with the Border Patrol under the project Joint Task Force Six, hoping to assist stopping drug dealers. Instead they ended up killing an 18 year-old U.S. citizen who was out herding goats.
Let's hope that Gov. Napolitano's attempt for political points does not leave another family without a child.