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Posted: 8/22/2005 10:43:14 PM EDT
For One Family, Front Row Seats to Border Crisis
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL
August 23, 2005
www.nytimes.com/2005/08/23/national/23border.html?pagewanted=all
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.

The concerns come as the volume of illegal immigration has increased dramatically in both states, funneled there by stepped-up enforcement in California and Texas. Border Patrol figures for the 53-mile-long Deming Station area that includes the Johnsons' land show that 31,134 people were apprehended through July of this year, compared with 29,168 for all of last year. The patrol says there have also been more than 16,580 times this year when people turned back under the gaze of border agents.

In 2002, the patrol noted 13 cases of people driving through, over or past vehicle barriers. This year, there have been 330. Robert Velez, a Border Patrol agent, said the bodies of 11 illegal immigrants, apparently dead from exposure, have been found in the brush so far this year, compared with five in the Deming Station area in all of 2004.

In Columbus, a fast-growing town of 2,000 at an official Port of Entry with Mexico, Police Chief Clare A. May said two shots were fired at him Aug. 9 while he examined a suspected smuggler's car at the Family Dollar store, a popular immigrants' rendezvous point.

Chief May said he hoped some of the $1.7 million in emergency money made available by the governor's declaration could go for a fourth patrol officer and some investigators, or at least for vehicle maintenance and gas.

In Animas, 60 miles from the border, Sheila Massey said she and her husband had recently been roused at 2 a.m. by illegal migrants breaking into their farmhouse. "One said he was looking for work," she recounted. "I said you don't look for work at 2 in the morning. What we've lost is our sense of security."

Luis Barker, deputy chief of the Border Patrol in Washington, said that "we're not where we want to be" but that "when we apply pressure in one sector, we see a shift elsewhere."

Mr. Barker said New Mexico was "a priority corridor - we're putting our resources in that location." Seven poles towering over the desert have daylight and infrared cameras - 10 more are coming - and the sandy trails are seeded with buried sensors.

Mr. Barker said the Department of Homeland Security, the Border Patrol's parent agency, was not embarrassed by the emergency declarations made by the two governors and welcomed the chance to cooperate with state authorities.

But that is of little comfort to the Johnsons, particularly James's uncle and aunt, Joe and Teresa Johnson, ranchers who say they have had brushes with smugglers. Particularly scary, they say, are the forbidden zones on their own land, first settled by the family in 1918 in the marauding days of the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who plundered Columbus.

Family members own about 110,000 acres, where they raise cattle, chili peppers, onion and watermelon. Their highlands, the Carrizalillo mountains on the map but known here simply as the Johnson mountains, are often occupied by men with binoculars who direct the migrant traffic, or prey on it.

"The Border Patrol has warned us to stay out of certain areas," Teresa Johnson said.

Jack T. Jeffreys, field operations supervisor for the Border Patrol in the area, said the Johnsons' estimate of 500 trespassers a day was difficult to corroborate, since the average number of migrants caught daily in the entire Deming zone was about 175. But Mr. Jeffreys said there was no way of knowing how many went uncaught.

Everyone captured is fingerprinted and checked against government files. Non-Mexicans are held for deportation proceedings, but because jail space is limited, Mexicans without criminal records are generally released across the border. They can be caught and released a dozen times before facing charges, Border Patrol agents say. In fact, they say, when they stop seeing certain repeat offenders it means they have finally made it in.

Sometimes the incursions can be surprisingly blatant, as when a couple and two women were picked up Wednesday after strolling through holes in the fence just beside the Port of Entry. They were quickly taken to a Border Patrol trailer in Columbus for processing.

One of the women, Maria Guadelupe Chavez, 51, from Durango, Mexico, said she had been living in Oregon illegally for the past 13 years. She married an American, she said, "but it didn't work out," and had been working there as a licensed home aide. Asked why she had returned to Mexico and risked an illegal re-entry, she replied, "stupidity."

But she said, "I'll definitely try again."

A block away the day before , Chief May, sitting in his one-room station - rented quarters because the city is too poor to put up a police building - said he was looking for a stolen vehicle this spring when he discovered 53 illegal immigrants in a Columbus motel.

He said he had no clues about who had shot at him this month. "I heard a loud bang and I thought, 'I know what this is, this is a gunshot,' " he said. Then he heard a bullet go by his ear. "Yep," he recalled thinking, "I know what that is."

James Johnson said that on July 21, four men and four women entered from Mexico and had gotten about half a mile into the United States when a van began trailing them. Three bandits ran out, grabbed three of the women at his fence and dragged them away.

The others escaped to a farmhouse where, he said, his mother, "scared to death," retrieved a gun and held them for the Border Patrol.

One of the abducted women was soon released and the other two were picked up 15 miles away, all apparently unharmed, Mr. Johnson said.

Johnson family members say they have found their land strewn with shirts, pants, shoes socks and underwear - signs that bandits searching for valuables had forced their victims to strip.

James Johnson said that several weeks ago he came across a Mexican couple who said they had paid $900 to smugglers but had been abandoned in the brush without food or water when they fell behind the rest of their group. He said he drove them back to the border.

Riding the fence in July, Teresa Johnson said, she heard walkie-talkies and came face to face with two strangers with binoculars. Last fall, she said, she stepped out of her door to find a woman outside holding a list of names, clearly migrants to be smuggled, "like you'd go to the grocery store with a list of things to pick up," she said.

On July 3, she said, a lost migrant set their pasture afire to alert the Border Patrol. And just two weeks ago, she and Joe were leaving home for a meeting of the border task force, a monthly community gripe forum, when they found an illegal immigrant at their door who said he was lost and wanted to give up.

"I called the Border Patrol and said we were going to be late for their meeting because we had to wait until they could pick the gentleman up," Joe Johnson said.

Despite their frustration, family members are not looking for help from any of the civilian border patrol groups that have formed in recent years, like the Minuteman Project, James Johnson said. For one thing, he said, the area is without cellphone service, hampering civilian communication. Also, he said, "You don't know their agenda - it's too much of a liability."

The feeling of helplessness is constant, but not altogether new. A dozen years ago, Joe Johnson said, he and his brother Bill were held up by five gunmen who took their pickup truck and fled toward Mexico, getting stuck in a ditch just before the border. About eight years ago, he said, 30 head of their cattle were herded into Mexico; a few were found alive before slaughter in Palomas.

"We just want to be left alone to earn a living," he said.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:50:33 PM EDT
you know there are very few problems in this world that cannot be solved swiftly cheaply and permantly , if you just take political correctness out of the mix
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:54:37 PM EDT
If the government tells me it is not safe for me to go to certain parts of MY OWN land
isn't that proof that I am "in fear of my life on my own property"? Time to get out the rifle and ammo
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 10:59:24 PM EDT
This is going to get much worse before it gets better.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 11:14:46 PM EDT
Something has been going on...........
as I said the other day
I spend time in a neighborhood in Houston
that has about 10,00 illegals working\living there

in the last couple of weeks I have started seeing twice as many of them on the street
and they have started driving really bad, in two lanes or twice the speed limit
something has changed, I don't know what.........maybe we have a bunch of newcomers

I think the situation is getting rapidly worse
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 11:49:41 PM EDT
Why am I treated like a terrorist at the airport....searched, ordered around, property seized, must show identification papers.........all in the name of anti-terrorism....when the government allows untold infiltration of our borders. It means they are not really interested in stopping the flow of terrorists, only in training me to be a good subject of the NWO. I have lost faith in the government and their lies........Ok City, Waco , Ruby Ridge, Flight 800, 911, WMD....and on and on. I really do not trust them anymore, period.
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 11:54:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LTVN68:
Why am I treated like a terrorist at the airport....searched, ordered around, property seized, must show identification papers.........



Its to make you FEEL safe
some of the terrorists were on "watch" lists
they weren't even supposed to BE on an airplane

I know, lets pass MORE laws because we didn't enforce the old ones
Link Posted: 8/22/2005 11:57:54 PM EDT

Originally Posted By www-glock19-com:
you know there are very few problems in this world that cannot be solved swiftly cheaply and permantly , if you just take political correctness out of the mix



I like that
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 12:08:14 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 12:11:25 AM EDT
They get released INSIDE the Country...........
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 12:16:11 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 12:23:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/23/2005 12:24:18 AM EDT by 22bad]

Originally Posted By 82ndAbn:

Originally Posted By 22bad:
They get released INSIDE the Country...........



Not where I was. That must happen in other places.



Did you SEE them being bused back over the border(some of them are)
because everything I have seen indicates that most of them are released
and told to report back for a hearing that they don't show up for
and, even MOST of the criminals are released until their hearings
(which they don't show up for)
there was an article about a month ago about how the feds released 100,000 of the criminals
(not 100,00 illegals, 100,00 illegals that had been caught committing crimes)
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 6:06:08 AM EDT
Joe needs to wquit being a pussy and grow some sack.
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 6:13:48 AM EDT

But that is of little comfort to the Johnsons, particularly James's uncle and aunt, Joe and Teresa Johnson, ranchers who say they have had brushes with smugglers. Particularly scary, they say, are the forbidden zones on their own land, first settled by the family in 1918 in the marauding days of the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who plundered Columbus.


I bet those relatives had a recipe for handling these types of situations.
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 10:11:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By www-glock19-com:
you know there are very few problems in this world that cannot be solved swiftly cheaply and permantly , if you just take political correctness out of the mix



+1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 10:53:51 AM EDT

Originally Posted By 1Andy2:
This is going to get much worse before it gets better.



Fixed it for ya!
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 9:22:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By DS11M:

Originally Posted By www-glock19-com:
you know there are very few problems in this world that cannot be solved swiftly cheaply and permantly , if you just take political correctness out of the mix



+1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000



pc has taken its toll on our country.........
Link Posted: 8/23/2005 9:43:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/23/2005 9:43:37 PM EDT by ZW17]
How we don't lock the borders in a TIME OF WAR is beyond me.
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