Where Is the Emergency? / by Karie Luidens


Current headline on the Albuquerque Journal’s website:

“Group of 306 migrants turn themselves in to Border Patrol at Antelope Wells”
Published: Friday, January 25th, 2019 at 10:38am

Of course, there’s already a vitriolic mix of reader comments on the link’s Facebook post.

“Wait, I thought the left wing was saying this was a manufactured crisis….”

“Please deliver them safely to Nancy’s house.”

“Proves that immigrants are willing to turn themselves in, just don’t crucify them!”

“..and our new Governor says it is not a problem! Please work with our President!”

“Again!!!! READ MY LIPS!!! NO CRISIS ON THE BORDER…. <sarcasm>. Pathetic! Thank you for doing your job reporting and not being an activists for the democratic controlled state.”

“Turn them back and tell them to go to Tijuana.”

“Where is the emergency, unarmed children, women and men fled from poverty, gangs and deathsquads!”

As for me, after reading the article and groaning my way through the comments, I turned to the paper map of New Mexico that’s tacked to our dining room wall and traced the route from Albuquerque to Antelope Wells. 330 miles; close to five hours of driving.

I don’t know what I’m contemplating. I just have this urge to witness what’s really happening at the border there. Sitting at a table in New Mexico’s biggest city, I feel so close and so far. Even the reporter who wrote the article seems to be firmly rooted in Las Cruces, which is only halfway closer—150 miles from the port of entry, two and a half hours of driving. Her facts, quotes, and photos are all credited to the Border Patrol itself. There’s no information about what happened next—where were these 306 migrants, “mostly parents with children and unaccompanied minors from Central America” who “arrived just after midnight on Thursday” (last night) sent after they were apprehended? How are their asylum claims being processed? Where are they being held?

Last month, two Guatemalan children died in U.S. custody in the days after their fathers turned themselves in—after they were apprehended. According to the Border Patrol’s news release this time, “Some of the juveniles were in need of immediate medical assistance and were transported to local hospitals for treatment of various illnesses and injuries.” How are they now? How can we know? Is anyone investigating, or do we just wait to see if the Border Patrol releases another statement?

Apparently “This is the 26th group of more than 100 people to come across the border in the remote area since October. Most are Central Americans seeking asylum.”

Where are they now?

So much huffing and puffing of hot air in Washington and on cable TV over the border and a bollard fence or five-billion-dollar wall. But who’s actually there to see what it’s like, what’s needed, who’s dangerous or in danger, who’s exploiting or being exploited?

I want to drive the five hours down there and camp and see for myself. But I’d be so useless, Anglo and alone in all that desert.