But the sadness I feel at the border is not because of the violence: it’s the eternal struggle of poverty with plenty, a struggle that humiliates and degrades both parties. The only winners are the franchises of McDonald’s and Taco Bell in Douglas or Nogales, Arizona. If we capture those poor people—as we do by the thousands—it’s mandated that we have to feed them, before we send them back across the border.
I don’t see this changing. The ridiculous fences won’t change it. As former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano crisply remarked: “Show me a forty-nine-foot fence and I’ll show you a fifty-foot ladder.” True. The Arizona legislature is basically spinning its wheels. Observe the increasingly Hispanic midwest, where more and more middle-class Latinos are now bringing in their poor cousins to care for their gardens and milk their dairy cows. And the Anglos can’t stop it with laws. For every Mexican deported two or three more will make it through. The numerical edge is with the “brown ones” from the south.
Tucson has always felt like an easygoing Sonoran city, which is one reason I like it. Phoenix has become a portal for just about anything bad. Senate Bill 1070 fails to deal with problems that have been there since the 1850s, when John Russell Bartlett, the New Englander who was responsible for establishing a border between theand Mexico, drew a line in the desert where, for numberless centuries no line had been. Confusing to the native people, it has led us, inexorably, to the tragic place where we are now.