Gypsy's Travels

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Border Patrol

Leaving Pancho Villa SP in New Mexico, I decided to follow Hwy 9 east towards El Paso. This road appeared to run right along the US / Mexico border and I was very curious about the problem of illegal immigration in that area.

As I traveled, I wondered about the various stones stacked one on another. I recall that we did a similar exercise in Scouting as signals on the trail. These stones appeared at intervals along the fence line. Were they signals to other illegals seeking to cross into the US?
It was hard to imagine anyone could hide in the scrubby brush that covered miles and miles of land in the area. Not only is the brush sparse, the bushes are full of spikes and stickers. Nevertheless, I saw plenty of white trucks patrolling along the road, some even pulled off and out checking in those patches of scrubby brush. I watched the roadside very carefully but never did see anyone sneaking over.

It is easy to talk about illegal immigrants as a "problem," but talking about them as people brings on a whole new set of feelings. I dealt with many of these people in my years as an ER nurse in an inner city hospital. They were faces instead of numbers, struggling family members instead of intruders. I don't support illegal immigration, but were I in the same circumstances I would probably be trying to get into the U.S. any way I could.

I was thinking and driving when I noticed a small mud hole, but it was too late to stop. Since I wasn't in that much of a hurry, I made a U-turn and headed back for a closer look and a photo. I thought I might have seen tracks leading to and from the mud hole.
I took photos and even stopped for photos a couple more times before I continued my journey with some speed.

There are infrequent side roads on Hwy 9, apparently leading to border crossings just a brief distance away. As I passed one small side road, a Border Patrol truck pulled out and continued east behind me. I immediately checked my speed and kept it below the posted 65 just to be sure. I wondered why he didn't pass me or turn around.

Suddenly, Border Patrol Truck #2 appeared on my left, headed west. Truck #1 flashed his lights, Truck #2 turned around, and Truck #1 turned on his "I want you to stop now!" lights behind me. I pulled over and waited, noting there was a 3rd truck behind #1. Now, it was just me on the side of a little traveled road, surrounded by three Border Patrol Trucks.

A handsome, young man in uniform approached my vehicle, making it a point to stay about two feet away. He kept his hand lightly on his gun.
"I wasn't speeding," I assured him.
"I know, ma'am," he answered politely. "We are just checking things out."
I waited, knowing what he had in mind.
"There was a report of a white sedan that turned around and headed West a while ago," he said.
"Oh, that was probably me," I answered, embarrassed that I was trying to remain cool and hoping he was only Border Patrol and not the grammar police.
"What was the problem?" he prompted.
"No, problem. I just wanted to take a picture,"
"Of the overturned truck?"
"No, it was before that. I thought I saw something interesting at the mud hole a ways back." I was sure he was wondering how a mud hole could be more interesting than an overturned truck. He asked a few more probing questions and wanted to look at my ID before he was finally satisfied I was nothing more than a curious tourist, and sent me on my way.

The Border Patrol works hard in the dry heat of the U.S. / Mexico border. I wish I had asked him about the stacks of rocks.

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  1. Never a dull moment with you at the wheel.

  2. Didn't you offer them an apple or a look at your cactus?


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