Un-American Is What Un-American Does

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In the discourse over Arizona's new and nasty and utterly un-American immigration law, one point is often overlooked: the crushing desperation of masses of people in our very own backyard.

I snapped the photo above while zipping through the outskirts of Mexico City where millions of poor souls live in "homes" like this one. Locally, they're known as "parachutes," because their ramshackle accretions appear to have fallen from the sky. These people live mainly on money sent home from the USA, usually from relatives working here illegally.

This past weekend, I drove my father down to Tombstone and Bisbee for the first time. Visiting from suburban Pennsylvania, he was amused at the "no firearms" bills posted on the windows of shops, restaurants and (hilariously) at least one shooting range. He was intrigued by the homemade Minutemen signs, their silver-hearted coyotes proclaiming some sort of vigilance. He was surprised by the impromptu Border Patrol checkpoint, and its seeming futility when the agent simply whisked our white faces right on by. But mostly, he was astounded at the breadth of the dangerous Arizona landscape that Mexicans are willing to cross to get here.

"You mean they walk through here? All this way? Through the desert?"

"Yes," I said, pointing out the hovering helicopter in the distance.

"Wow." He gazed at the rough terrain with a serious expression for some miles, before adding, "Anyone who does that can stay here as far as I'm concerned."

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