Beyond Washington, What Do the Locals Say About the Border ‘Crisis?’

There have been a few articles on how residents along the Mexican border feel about the proposed Wall, illegal immigration and related issues. For example, the New York Times recently ran one entitled, “On the Border: Little Enthusiasm for a Wall,” on January 9, 2019. But I’d thought I’d do some snooping around myself, so I began with newspapers in Arizona and New Mexico.

I thought, reasonably enough, that if there’s really a border crisis with a flood of illegals crossing every day, smuggling in drugs and weapons, trafficking in sex and generally putting the lives of everyday, ordinary Americans at high risk, then of course I’d run across articles and editorials about this issue. In doing so, I also limited myself to local opinion and perspective. In other words, no nationally syndicated news or op-eds.

To make this research easier on myself, at least initially, I utilized the convenient “clearing house” of newspapers provided by USNPL. I also narrowed my research, this time round, to the states of Arizona and New Mexico, leaving the much larger states of California and Texas to tackle independently at a later date. Finally, I made any and all local news reports on immigration-related issues top priority — that is, above opinion articles.

Well, I searched a little over 30 newspapers and, much to my surprise, found only five that in any way addressed the Wall and/or border and/or illegal immigration issues. Only five out of approximately 32, if my count is right. That is, only about 15.5% of the local news sources I examined had anything to say about these issues, even after the President’s address on what he continues to describe as our “border crisis,” and all but one was an opinion-editorial.

This rather shocked me, to say the least, and it may seem unbelievable to some … but that’s why I provided the above link to USNPL. This site lists newspapers in all 50 states, so anyone if free to conduct their own research and correct me on my findings. In fact, I heartily welcome any and all contributions to this discussion. For now, though, what did I find? In short, the following:

In a recent statewide survey, of which results were published January 10, 2019 in The Arizona Daily Sun, fully 40% of residents said education was their top concern followed by immigration and border security at a distant 29% and healthcare at 8%.

In an op-ed published by The Fountain Hills Times, local resident and editorialist Ann Schweers bluntly said, “The assertion that there is a crisis on the border with thousands of terrorists and criminals apprehended is false. They are playing with statistics to instill fear.”

Susan Sanders of Green Valley, Arizona, had to say this about the Wall and border security in an op-ed for the Green Valley News on January 10, 2019:

We don’t need more physical wall. Those who work and live along the border know its ineffectiveness. Physical walls have proven damaging to the environment, to personal property, to business, to tourism and they are downright unfriendly.

We do need border security…

Eventually, we need immigration reform with consistent and enforceable laws!

The Albuquerque Journal editorial board noted in its January 5, 2019 opinion article that it is a “fact (that) immigrants commit fewer crimes than their U.S.-born peers,” but also argued that “border barriers in some form would help with the humanitarian crisis by sending the message we do care about border security and funneling crossers into safer, more manageable areas…”

The editorial board of the Sana Fe New Mexican also stated in its January 9, 2019 editorial that “clear statistics … show undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.” They also went on to point out:

Trump said the wall is needed to keep out illegal drugs; most drugs come through official ports of entry, not along the border between entry points. As we have pointed out before, too, illegal immigration is hardly a crisis, despite Trump’s claims. Border crossings are at their lowest point in decades. The humanitarian crisis Trump said he is addressing has been caused by his administration’s wrongheaded policies.

Finally, another perspective, which, although published in the Wall Street Journal, nevertheless comes from local Border Patrol agents. In its article published back in 2016 the Journal reported:

[S]ome border patrol agents like (Matthew) Eisenhauer, who typically work in remote areas, see it differently. Eisenhauer told CBS News that a “great wall” is not really the solution.

“Border fortification means a lot of things in different areas,” said Eisenhauer. “In areas where we can’t have a physical structure, we use the environmental challenges to funnel traffic into certain areas to identify and apprehend [individuals] in a more effective manner.”

And in the same article, Joe Agosttini, the assistant port director in Nogales for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, asked rhetorically, “Do you think a wall is gonna stop them from coming in?” And then answered himself, “The fact that you have a house, would that stop a burglar from coming in … I used to live about 30 feet from the fence, OK? I’ve been seeing these things for 30 years.”

Perhaps tomorrow, or sometime in the fairly near future, we’ll take a look at California and Texas, probably separately (!) to see if we can drum up some local perspective on the wall issue in those states, but again, it shocks me to find so little about this “crisis” from local news outlets. One would think that if their communities were being overrun and endangered, the local papers, so very dependent upon local advertisers and subscribers, would consistently cover this unfolding, tragic drama. What I found instead, by and large, were the newspapers of relatively quiet, sleepy little towns reporting common, everyday, ordinary news you’d expect to find in small town newspapers.

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