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Posted on Tue, Aug. 30, 2005
Arizona residents grow weary of dealing with illegal immigration


The Dallas Morning News

ROBLES JUNCTION, Ariz. - (KRT) - Joe Coates would like to move away.

In the seven years he's lived here, he's found groups of illegal immigrants sleeping in his kid's treehouse. He's been awakened in the middle of the night by someone banging on the side of his house. And his 6-year-old son has seen a body through the school bus window on the ride home.

But Coates, 35, doesn't think anyone will buy his property. It is 28 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border and seven miles west of the Sasabe Highway, a major route for migrants.

The groups of immigrants walking past his house at breakfast time have grown from pairs to a dozen or more at a time.

Coates says he sympathizes. And he helps them when he can. But he doesn't agree with humanitarian groups like No More Deaths that search out migrants and even transport them to medical facilities.

"If I'm going to hand them water, I'm going to have my cellphone in the other hand calling the Border Patrol," he said.

Many of his neighbors in this town of 5,248 residents feel the same way, he said.

They say they're tired of the trash in this part of the Sonoran Desert, where empty water jugs and scraps of clothing are as common as saguaro and mesquite. And they're frustrated with border policy and a government that can't better control the flow of people entering the country.

"Some just say build the Great Wall of China, and call it Mexico, but it's not that easy," said Coates, who works for the Tucson water department.

Rancher Frank Williams, 46, of Arivaca, Ariz., said he won't give anyone water unless the person is dying. The trash and deaths are the worst he's seen in the 30 years his family has lived along the border. He's found three dead people on his property since March.

"If they come to your home, you don't offer water," he said. Otherwise, "You might as well open a store for Mexicans. You'd spend all the time doing it."

But children's book author Byrd Baylor, 81, believes it's her duty to help. She owns the 35 acres of land where No More Deaths, a coalition of volunteers that offers humanitarian aid to illegal immigrants, has its summer camp. Originally from San Antonio and a member of the Baylor mining family, she said it's obvious that the border policy has to change.