About DukeEngage Tucson 2010

Immigration is perhaps the single largest domestic challenge facing both the United States and Mexico today. People die nearly every week attempting to cross the border. Hostilities against immigrants in the U.S. rise daily. Local, state, and international relations are increasingly strained.

For eight weeks this summer, seven students have been given the opportunity to travel to Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico to study the many faces of immigration. Following two weeks of meetings with local activists, a Border Patrol agent, a federal public defender, lawyers, members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, maquiladora owners, Grupos Beta employees, migrants, and local farmers, we will spend six weeks partnered with Southside Day Labor Camp, BorderLinks, or Humane Borders in order to further immerse ourselves in the issues of immigration.

This blog chronicles our experiences and our perspectives on what we learn while here in Arizona. We hope our stories are interesting and informative.


Sunday, July 4, 2010


From an interview few weeks ago, I heard that the U.S.-Mexico border is just a "bandage for something that needs massive surgery."

That bandage turns out to be quite expensive. It has costed the U.S. government and the tax payers, more than $2.4 billion up to this date.

2.4 billion dollars, when broken down into realities, can afford 37,500 students full 4-year tuition for colleges that average about $30,000 a year. For the past years, when the headlines of news underscored high schools cutting hours, programs, and even school days (such as 4-day schools) to cut the energy and resources that goes into public schools, the government has been increasing contracts with private companies to set up double fences in the border.

However, this bandage is not an effective one. It might even make the "wounds" worse, possibly an infection.

The border has not slowed people coming from the Mexico side. The migrants who are willing to come to U.S. are willing to risk their lives. They often sell their land and scrape all the money they've got in order to come here. They have nothing to lose. The border isn't going to stop them. The only reason for some decline of the number for Mexican migrants was the problems of the market U.S. is facing. The only reason was the U. S. economy, not the border.

Instead, the border made it harder for these people to get across for about 5 minutes. People use ladders to climb up the wall. Sometimes, the construction has spots where people can just climb up easily. However, by rushing, many fall or get injured. And with these injuries, they often suffer incredible amount of pain walking through the desert. If they are with a group, it's easy for them to fall behind and get lost. Many lead to death. After the border has been stacked with walls, the migrant death dramatically increased.

It is estimated that more people died passing through the Border area and the desert than the soldiers who died in Iraq War. In U.S. soil.

Humans are not the only thing this 2.4 billion bandage is affecting.

The border is hurting the wildlife and the environment much more than any migrant trash might. The border itself disrupts many animal's instinctual migratory flow and movement. It divides populations of the animals, and it's harming their ecosystem. This unnatural border also stresses out the animals due to a block that stops animals like jaguars or feline-related animals to freely move around the area. This stress, ends up killing these animals. Since the border wall, many diverse species of animals have lost the connectivity to vast areas of space they need in order to survive.

One additional detail that the public does not know so much is the injustices of the laws. The environmental acts, painstakingly created by people who have dedicated their lives to protection of the environment, has been totally and entirely waived.

Section 102 of the Real ID Act of 2005 says: "notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads."

So far, Department of Homeland Security has waived 36 federal laws, including:
National Environmental Policy Act
Endangered Species Act
Clean Water Act
National Historic Preservation Act
Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Clean Air Act

Outside of the U.S. soil, the border has put Mexican towns near border area in a great danger. To block people from coming to U.S. from drainage pipes, the DHS has also blocked the pipes. Also , towns like Nogales were immediately affected: "Nogales flood caused by CBP illegally walling off a drainage tunnel on the Mexican side of the border. The flood was made worse by the dam-like construction of the border wall, sinking downtown homes and businesses under five to seven feet of water! Two people lost their lives, and 578 homes and businesses and 45 cars were damaged or destroyed." (Sierra Club Borderlands presentation)

Personally, I don't exactly know what the best solution for the border is. However, after sessions with the Sierra Club , I came to realize that at least one fact is true. The border walls are definitely not a solution, only an expensive bandage that might make the wounds worse.

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