Family through a fence

A bittersweet reunion lets three young immigrants see – and reach for – their deported mothers through a fence. Read more here in the June 11 The New York Times piece: Immigrants Reach Beyond a Legal Barrier for a Reunion

As a young man and two young women approached the border from the Arizona side, a cry rang out through the bars of the border fence. Waiting for their children in matching turquoise t-shirts on the Mexican side were their mothers, separated for years since their deportations for being illegally present in the U.S.

The six came together, reaching through the spaces between the thick metal poles, with sobs and laughter under the watchful (and not always dry) eyes of organizers, reporters, Border Patrol, and Mexican Federales last Tuesday – the culmination of days of travel and two months of planning. All three children are in President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which gives qualified applicants the ability to go to school, work and in some states get drivers licenses while they wait for a more permanent resolution to their legal status limbo. It’s a way for participants to start coming out of the shadows.

Border Patrol busts: an illustrated mini news roundup

Drug busts are a big part of Border Patrol coverage, and it’s a topic that agents are often happy to discuss. As part of my work for Tucson Sentinel, I’ve been logging the incidents Border Patrol reports to the press in the righthand column of my weekly border roundups. Last week’s edition featured an unusual amount of photos provided by Border Patrol of some cases that demonstrate both regular smuggling activity – and a few especially inventive attempts – that I discussed with Border Patrol Agents Jeremy Copeland and Jason Rheinfrank. Customs and Border Protection’s Yuma Air Branch spotted suspects hiding bundles of marijuana in brush along the Colorado River near the U.S.-Mexico border about 5:30 Thursday evening. They notified Border Patrol agents who arrived on scene to seize the narcotics.

Upcoming Post Teaser: updates & traces

I have to admit there’s been some unanticipated delays (somehow summer flu is always more surprising than the winter version) but as well as working on the news page project, I’ve been prepping background content and starting new reporting projects. So bear with me – there’s a lot in the works. Look for more short updates about interviews, records requests and other process work as stories get off the ground in the next weeks. Of course, this wouldn’t be a teaser post without a taste of what’s coming:

Not as planned

Well. Last Thursday, things did not go as planned

Well, unless the plan was to spend 3 hours in the desert trying to reach my source and hoping he was just running late (he wasn’t), things did not go as planned. The appointment had been to find out about an active search for a 21-year-old man who disappeared approximately 7 weeks ago. I’d spoken to the man leading that day’s trip and tracked down the phone number of the missing man’s father, who’d come to Tucson from Tennessee in hopes of finding answers, the original tip coming from a mass email:

“Could you please run on the [humanitarian organization] site a notice that there is a father here from [a southern state] who has been looking for his 21 yo son left by his group 5 weeks ago and please call and take him out if people have time?…He has been here in Tucson for five weeks, living on the street and searching daily…He’s been sent a map of where to look but it’s a very bad map from the person who was with his son and was apprehended and deported. The map maker would like to be paid for a better map……..BTW, he’s already checked the morgue (negative) and I will check hospitals today.”

From the field: counting cars

A small border town scene: while waiting to meet someone this morning, I counted at least 27 Border Patrol vehicles (also 1 Immigration Customs Enforcement, several federal land management & multiple local emergency service vehicles) passing through Robles Junction between 6:14 & 7:13. (then as I type this: 3 more USBP & 1 ICE getting gas)

Hiking with Samaritans, part 3

This is the last of a three part series on hiking in southern Arizona with humanitarian volunteers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & photo gallery

The sun is emerging more frequently as we start take the left branch and begin the last stretch before we reach the border. There is no question that this trail is in use. There are signs of passing people everywhere, some old like a cloth shirt deteriorating into the debris in the stream bed but others fresh like a brightly colored Mexican toilet paper wrapper resting in the grass. The feet that trod these trails both leave and return to family. Migrants seeking jobs may be hoping to pay for anything from food and shelter to housing and medical care.