Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Turmoil in Hudspeth: Border violence, cartel violence ongoing problems for residents of 'twilight zone'

Jim Ed Miller grows Pima cotton and other crops on his family farm near Fort Hancock in what he calls "almost America." Almost America, according to Miller, is a forsaken area in southern Hudspeth and El Paso counties. It is bordered on the south by Mexico and on the north, east and west by a ring of U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints. The land has a rugged, prickly beauty. It is populated by cranes, Mexican burrowing owls, coyotes and myriad other desert creatures. But it is the two-legged mammals -- illegal border crossers and uniformed U.S. Border Patrol agents -- that give Miller heartburn. Undocumented immigrants and drug smugglers walk through Miller's land, which his parents worked before him. The towering border fence abruptly stops on the south end of his property about a mile east of the Fort Hancock International Port of Entry, guiding illegal crossers onto his furrowed plots. A concrete-lined irrigation ditch with a flat bottom provides a trackless route to the main highway, making it impossible for Border Patrol agents to detect passage. Miller calls it the "Calle de Oro," or golden road. He jokes about charging a toll. Miller, a Hudspeth County commissioner, and other county residents use humor to take the edge off a feeling that they live in a twilight zone where Border Patrol agents are afraid to create an international incident and illegal crossers act with near impunity. Sometimes the realities are grim...more

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