The View from Tucson

Having lived in Texas and Arizona, I can personally attest to the problems with illegal immigration. I have met many hard-working illegals who have come here seeking a better life, and having also been to Mexico, I can sympathize with their plight.

But not everyone has had the same experience.

While living in Tucson, Arizona, a mere 100 miles or so from the border, we heard almost daily stories of destroyed fences, trash, intimidation, and even human tragedy in the Sonoran Desert as thousands of Mexicans bypassed the border entry points (and the lines awaiting visas) to enter the United States.

Tucson writer Leo Banks described the chaos on the border:

These border residents are routinely snickered at and called racist vigilantes. But most are decent folks caught up in the daily invasion of illegals who tramp across their land. Ranchers in hard-hit areas spend the first hours of every day repairing damage done the night before. They find fences knocked down and water spigots left on, draining thousands of precious gallons. And then there's the trash: pill bottles, syringes, used needles, and pile after pile of human feces.

Anyone can sympathize with the plight of the very poor in Mexico and Latin America. Having seen the poverty up close, I would welcome any immigrant from those counties who wants to work and become an American. In my opinion, President Bush's guest worker proposal is the right approach — but it's only a step.

Around the turn of the century, when Mexican bandit Pancho Villa routinely crossed the southern border into the United States to harass and assault Norte Americanos, and when the Mexican government was either unwilling or unable to put a stop to it, United States armed forces crossed the border so that we could put an end to it ourselves. One hundred years later, Mexican bandits again cross the border with relative impunity.

Now, I'm not advocating another Mexican Punitive Expedition, but I am saying we need to take border security more seriously. The border crossers are no longer only poor families looking for a quick way to a better life. The new “Pancho Villas” are desperados and narco-terrorists, and if Al Quaeda hasn't already entered America across this vast desert, they will soon.

The administration is addressing the issue, but we need to do better. We need robust border enforcement, we need scrupulous and vigorous prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, and most importantly we need a plan to stimulate the economies of our southern neighbors to reduce the desire of Latin Americans to sojourn north in search of a better life.

We cannot allow the current situation to fester any longer.

© Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange

Lt. Col. Mickey Addison is a career Air Force officer with various assignments in the United States overseas. He recently concluded an assignment at the Pentagon. He and his wife have been married for 18 years and they have two children. He can be reached at

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