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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Terrorist attacks changed border mindset

    Terrorist attacks changed border mindset
    Associated Press Writer

    BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Fatigue-wearing National Guard members stand by in the inspection bays. Mexican boys peddle sweets to a new market of backed-up motorists. Fewer Mexican students cross the border for English lessons at the university just a city block into Texas.

    Five years later, the outcome of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is visible here on the international bridges.

    And it's felt in the way many in the almost binational region at the tip of southeast Texas have seen the back-and-forth part of their culture threatened, if not shut down.

    Up until Feb. 2, 1848, the Rio Grande Valley was Mexico, and it wasn't until the 1930s that highways were cut through hundreds of miles of ranch land to link the region with Anglo Texas and the rest of the United States. Even a few decades ago, trips to "the city" meant Matamoros or Reynosa, Mexico.

    Until Sept. 11, 2001, both Americans and Mexicans could go to and from the other side within a lunch hour. Customs and immigration agents were fewer and more lenient than they are today.

    But now, border agents see themselves on the front line on homeland security, with every entrant not just a possible visa violator but a potential terrorist.

    Before 9-11 the priority was detecting narcotics and of course illegal immigrants," said Rick Pauza, spokesman for the new Customs and Border Protection agency. "Our primary mission became to deter the entry of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction."

    The only documented terrorism arrest at the Texas border involved a U.S. citizen crossing at El Paso in 2004. Wyoming college student Mark Robert Walker was accused of trying to go to Somalia to help overthrow the Somali government. Walker pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

    Department of Homeland Security spokesman Jarrod Agen said the absence of terrorist arrests at the border is a testament to security improvements and not a sign that there is no threat.

    "When we are apprehending (immigrants) at the border, we are vetting everyone," Agen said. "We do checks through our systems to find out if there is some sort of (terrorism) hit."

    Meanwhile, illegal immigration came to symbolize the porous border and U.S. vulnerability.

    For border crossers, it's meant the line through Customs can stall at any time as a CBP officer asks questions to determine whether a foreigner should be sent to "secondary" inspection for more questioning. Word has spread among foreigners that a CBP officer can revoke their $100 laser visas on suspicion they don't intend to return home when the visa expires. CBP officers are on the lookout for document fraud.

    New technology, such as drive-through X-ray machines and radiation detectors, means suspicious shapes or devices can be detected and motorists truck drivers are more likely to be asked to stop for further inspection.

    Criminal databases are now linked and accessible to CBP officers, which means they are more likely to find a record on a traveler.

    Wait times to cross into the United States can vary from as little as 15 minutes to an hour or more.

    "I think it would be fair to say that pre 9-11 the area of the border that I know of was fairly laid back," University of Texas-Brownsville anthropologist Tony Zavaleta said.

    "In the post 9-11 world that's changed. The reality of the border is that it's much more serious. ... It's an interesting activity when you come back and you're asked your citizenship and you're challenged," he said.

    Immigrant advocates like the Rev. Mike Seifert, who ministers to a poor church in Brownsville and an even poorer church across the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, say the war against terror has somehow morphed into a national hysteria about immigration, with the victims being the poor along the border.

    Illegal immigrants working as maids in his parish earning $100 a week haven't seen children in Mexico in years, because smugglers' fees are higher now that they have to combat tighter security. Others have been jailed after returning for a family funeral. They always come back for that $100 a week job, he said, but each time the trip gets more dangerous.

    "It's like Homer's 'Odyssey' each time — just to earn $100 a week," Seifert said.

    Even those who applied and paid for documents to enter the United States as a tourist or shopper risk having the documents confiscated by a Customs and Border Protection official who doesn't believe their story.

    At UTB it means the campus's language institute is no longer packed with "walk-across" students from Mexico using the short-term rather than student visas to go to classes.

    Before Sept. 11, the institute had nearly 1,500 students enrolled, he said. Since then, enrollment has been as low as 200, with students saying they are afraid bridge inspectors will seize their visas.

    "Everybody knew they were doing it and it was ignored," Zavaleta said. "Afterward that was enforced and it is enforced today. There's a certain fear factor that didn't exist before. ... The word runs through the community and then we're afraid to do this or to go there or to go to school."

    One of the Valley's key marketing strategies has been both its cultural ties with Mexico

    and the financial interdependence of Valley officials helping lure companies to set up factories on the Mexican side, with managers buying homes and becoming part of the community on the U.S. side.

    But there's resentment when a Reynosa, Mexico, restaurant owner has his visa revoked at the border or when a well-heeled Mexican coming to shop feels talked down to by a border inspector.

    "It's strained our relationship with our friends in Mexico," said Bill Summers, head of a regional chamber of commerce known as Valley Partnership, "They're not the cause of our problems but they're having to partake of these things."

    There are positives to the heightened security.

    Summers said that change was always difficult, but both business people and officials he spoke to on both sides of the border recognized the threat of terrorism had changed the world.

    "They don't want things to come through there either," he said.

    And Zavaleta's commute down the southernmost country road in Texas has gotten a little more comfortable now that heightened security means drug dealers aren't loading their trucks on the side of the road, and boats of illegal immigrants aren't stepping down on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

    "It's a confusing conflict of feelings over whether it's good or bad and for whom," he said.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member CCUSA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    New Jersey
    A good neighbor does not squat illegally, bleed social services( 50 billion a year), commit identity theft(a felony) commit voter fraud, rob,murder, join gangs, peddle drugs, human traffic ect....

    Mexico has alot of explaining to do!!!

    I don't consider them friends now!!
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3
    Senior Member CCUSA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    New Jersey
    I think people have watched one too many Mexican mission movies.

    These people are hurting our country just as much as terrorism!!
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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