"Mr. Simcox, they want to know what they should do now?" asked Mary, a news reporter for the Univision affiliate out of Phoenix. Volunteers of Civil Homeland Defense had just arrived at a remote site for a Friday night border watch mission with Mary and her cameraman in tow. They had rushed down from Phoenix in record time to meet me for a sound bite about a piece she was doing about recent allegations of migrants being abused on the border. What she ended up getting was the truth. In your face, shut-up-and-sit-down truth, the kind of truth
that makes hate-mongering groups like Humane Borders, The Anti-Defamation League, and the Southern Poverty Law Center look like the witch hunters they are. Six compassionate American citizens encountered two groups of people entering the country illegally--and for the fiftieth time the episode was captured on film, this time by a news crew from Univsion. What did they see? They filmed another encounter that has ended like the hundreds of similar incidents before.
"Well,” I said, as I regained my composure after giving a Border Patrol Supervisor a piece of my mind. He had just told a female senior citizen CHD member that he was not going to respond to our calls for assistance. (See Border Patrol refuses to respond to calls of citizens".)
"I guess they have three choices. They can continue on their way, but La Migra is waiting for them--they are out there.” I gestured with my hand behind my back towards the San Pedro River. I could see the group looking past my eyes and then right back to meet my stare. The group of 30 some immigrants gathered around the small and very outnumbered news crew. Mary asked, almost incredulously, "You mean they can go--you won't stop them?” "No, of course not; I can't or I go to jail," I said. "I can't stop them, but I am here to send them a message: they will be caught. Migra is on their way,” I said, “but sure, they can go ahead and take a chance.
"Or,” I said, “they can sit and wait here for Migra--we won't hurt them; we have water.
“Or, they can go back to Mexico. Go back home,” I said to them looking directly into their eyes. They knew what I meant and how I felt. "Go back and go to Naco and come in legal. Come in legal, and I will respect you,” I said.
Mary continued to translate and play to the camera, but I knew most of the UDA's knew what I was saying; many were nodding their heads in agreement and seemed to look ashamed. One of them made a statement about only wanting trabajo, and I can respect that desire. That's an American value and now I see a value held in high esteem around the world-- people are not afraid of hard work to make a living. And our government has invited them here.
I am still uncertain as to whether what I said next made it into the report. But my words created a chuckle or two among the UDA's.
I responded to the man's statement by telling the entire group that if they are looking for work to go to Texas. "Go to Crawford, Texas," I instructed them. "Ask for directions to the Bush Ranch - go see Presidente Bush--he will give you work."
The Univision reporter had not planned to come along on the patrol, Mary only wanted to ask asked me if I had noticed a difference in border security since the Department of Homeland Security announced its latest ruse known as the ABC initiative or something like that. Mary had called at the very last minute; we were already scheduled to meet with a documentary film crew; they had postponed and rescheduled for the next two nights of patrols, and we already had another reporter from Missouri. So I invited Univision to join us. Mary met us at our headquarters in Palominas and filmed CHD volunteers as they discussed the evening patrol, gathered supplies and drove to the border. Mary followed us--high heels and all.
We were still in the process of unloading the rescue water, first aid kit and lights when over the radio someone said, “There's a group coming!" The alert came from one of our dangerous senior citizen spotters, who had already deployed and were sitting in lawn chairs hidden behind trees to the south of the trail. Again they gave the signal that a group of UDA's was approaching. I alerted the news crew (they were obviously shaken and nervous after I passed on the alert to them, which I thought was curious since they were so concerned about the rights of the migrants, their so-called "people") They sat directly behind me as I crouched close to the hillside and waited for the group to appear around the bend of the trail. Completely unconscious of the fact they were surrounded by American citizens and a news crew from Mexico, the group rounded the curve and walked right to me. Coming down from the side of the hill, I greeting them with a friendly. Hola, buenos dias, (actually it was afternoon and I should have said Buenos tardes, but then I'm still learning).
Folks, I mean this is in the middle of nowhere, eight -tenths of a mile north of the border along the San Pedro River. The group stopped in their tracks, caught in the headlight of the camera lens that stared them down from forty feet away in the grass that brightly reflected the bronze light cast by the setting sun.
The group consisted of 12 young males--and they were a typical group of well-dressed dark-skinned Mexican-Indians from Quinerojo area, at least I think that's what I heard --remember my Spanish is not so good.
I asked the men in my best gringo-Spanish who they were, where they were from and what they were doing. "Are you Americanos?" I asked. No reply, just blank stares and a few confessions they were from Mexico.
I asked whether they were legal. At this time the news reporter Mary and her cameraman had built enough courage to move closer and began to ask me questions. I encouraged them to start asking the questions and backed off to confer with another agitated volunteer who, I learneed, had just been told by the Border Patrol that we had better not do anything to detain the group and that they were not going to respond to our call for assistance.
Now remember, the Univision crew is filming and we have a volunteer filming the entire episode from a safe distance as we always do. Just about five minutes after the first encounter, one of our senior spotters calls out again that yet another group of UDA's was approaching. The group walked right up behind the first group, paused and then moved in to create a complete group of over 30 UDA's. Four or five of the coyotes immediately retreated back down the trail towards Mexico.
And there we were, in the twilight zone; suddenly it became all these people milling about, positioning to get in front of the camera to get involved in the interview. Mary, the reporter is firing off questions at a such a rapid pace that I lose track of the conversation.
It was a press conference at ground zero. The invaders were being detained, or you could say delayed by Univision's cameras, not by a U.S. citizen. In fact a U.S. senior citizen is desperately attempting to do her duty by calling the proper authorities and she is being accused of illegally detaining a group of illegals by the very government that is supposedly in place to protect her.
At that point I became agitated, grabbed the phone and spent three frustrating minutes attempting to reestablish connection with Border Patrol, Naco station. When I did, I demanded to speak with a supervisor, and I was immediately transferred to one.
"Hello, this is Chris Simcox, I own the Tombstone Tumbleweed Newspaper. I am sitting out here with about 40 illegals and you just told one our volunteers that you were not going to respond to our calls for help. That's absurd! Right now there is a Univision television news crew taping this conversation. And it's going to be on the front page of my newspaper this week too. Listen, sir, you work for me, you work for us, the American citizens. I'm calling to tell you there are people breaking into our country. Are you telling me you're not going to respond? You work for me, sir, and I demand that you send someone out here to deal with this!”
The supervisor’s response this time: "Yes sir, we have someone on the way."
I return to the group to find the reporter basically telling the UDA’s that we are "just citizens" and that we have no power to detain or stop them. She is telling them to run! I'd say that if Mary is in this country as a guest in this country then she should be removed immediately as a subversive and should never be allowed to return. She was aiding and abetting a crime in progress, and actually encouraged the group to challenge us and to go on their way.
I walked back to this group love fest in progress and told Mary and the group that La Migra was on their way, which raised a sense of concern in the group of UDA's. That's when Mary asked me the question, "Mr. Simcox, they want to know what they should do now?"
After explaining the choices to them, the group moved to one side and engaged in a type of conference or pow-wow to decide which option would work best for them. The first group of twelve men decided to take their chances, bade us farewell and continued their journey north towards the San Pedro. As I promised, they were apprehended by Border Patrol just over an hour later about two miles north of our location.
The remainder of the group decided that since they had lost their guide, they would turn around and travel back to Mexico--although they vowed they would return again using a different route.
So there we were, watching one group head north, the other returning to the south, and Border Patrol nowhere to be found--ah! the success of the Homeland Security Department’s efforts to seal the southern border.
Mary and her cameraman asked us a few more inane questions like,"Is'nt it frustrating that Border Patrol did not respond to your calls for help?" and "Doesn't this make you want to quit?"
Four of our volunteers packed up and proceeded to return home to enjoy the rest of their Friday night. Univision became tired of waiting for Border Patrol to arrive--over 40 minutes had passed since they said they would be on their way. Mary and her cameraman thanked us, packed up and headed back towards Phoenix with one of those "money" stories.
I returned to my truck climbed on top of the cab with my binoculars and video camera and awaited the arrival of the Border Patrol supervisor. What happened next is an entirely different story.