Federal prosecutors visit Nogales, Sonora along with investigators from the PGR, to investigate the fatal shooting of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez… After searching it looks like the Nogales International had the only onsite coverage of this important advance in the investigation of the cross-border shooting that happened in October 2012–nearly 2 years ago. It’s interesting to note that there was no US Attorney involvement in the investigation until the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the teenager’s mother. Stories below… -m.
Peg Bowden is a retired nurse living in southern Arizona on a ranch near the border. She volunteers each week with the Green Valley Samaritans at an aid station known as El Comedor in Nogales, Sonora. The aid station/soup kitchen is a project of the Kino Border Initiative, directed by a binational Jesuit ministry.
*******************************************************************************************************It It is 11 a.m. and 103 degrees outside in Nogales, Sonora. An ancient fan wobbles and clickety-clacks from the ceiling of el comedor, the aid station where I volunteer each week. The fan tries to make a dent in the intense heat and humidity of this monsoon morning. The legendary dry heat of southern Arizona is gone; the air feels like steam.
I am on my bony knees on a concrete floor gently placing the blistered, bleeding feet of my migrant friend into a plastic basin of cool water. He rolls up his jeans and gingerly submerges his feet. Caked dirt and blood cloud the water. Sweat drips from my nose. My back is killing me. Wobbling back and forth on the unforgiving floor, I wonder what in the hell I am doing here. My friend winces as I gently take some forceps and remove the dead skin and small pebbles embedded in his feet.
He is heading to Bakersfield and a job he has held for ten years in a restaurant where he claims to make the best chile rellenos in California. I believe him. Speaking perfect English, he tells me that he has lived in Bakersfield for 20 years. He decided to return to Guadalajara to see his grandmother. He ended up burying her, and is grateful for the time he had with her. With no memory of his grandmother as a young boy, he wanted to meet her before she died. Attempting to cross the border and head back to Bakersfield, he was picked up in the desert two days ago. Deported to Nogales, he ended up at here at el comedor.
I am a retired nurse, a grandmother, and a volunteer at this aid station. Never in my nursing days have I had this sort of experience. It is an act of pain. It is an act of love. I feel like I am a character in the Bible washing the feet of a weary pilgrim. The intimacy is profound and unsettling. There are no charts and paperwork and the slick high-tech machinery of the American health care system. Just a wounded man, a basin of water, and a retired nurse diving into the drama of connecting as best we can. It is all hands-on.
We are both self-conscious and bumble through this together. He wipes his eyes as I pick away at his chewed-up feet. I examine his toes and decide how to best treat the open sores and broken blisters. I am all business and try to put on my nurse face.
We talk about his children. I talk about my grandchildren. He pulls a crumpled zip-lock bag out of his jeans pocket and spreads the wrinkled photos on the table. Two adorable little munchkins in school uniforms are smiling in front of a bus stop. He tells me he must get home to them soon. They need their dad. His wife needs the money from his job at the restaurant.
I tell him he cannot walk for several days. If your feet are abscessed and infected, you don’t migrate. He is staring at the photos; he doesn’t hear a word I say. I find him some over-sized slippers to wear over his bandaged feet. He tells me to look him up if I ever come through Bakersfield. He crosses himself and hobbles out the door.
I never saw him again.
The cases detailed in this ACLU complaint predate the current wave of child migrants and their detention. So far, there has been little access to the hundreds of minors now being detained in Nogales, Arizona and at other facilities in Texas and California.
Below are a series of articles from the local newspaper in Nogales. I took a few photos outside of the Border Patrol station on Tuesday, though it is not easy to see enough to know exactly which building is where the children are being held. But, for those not familiar with Nogales, it will give at least an idea what the facility and surroundings look like. Photos at the link below. -Molly
Below is an update on some efforts in the southern Arizona religious/humanitarian community to gain access to the Nogales Border Patrol facility to provide aid to the children there. Below that is a CNN report that seems pretty “fair and balanced.”
Attached is a letter to the White House from Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva.
I visited the site of the warehousing of the children in Nogales today… There were some media there hoping for a photo or a press conference, but no one is being allowed in. What I was able to see is essentially the same as the report from CNN. A gate, a lot of trucks going in an out, a large warehouse-type facility within the perimeter of the Border Patrol station. I did not see any “FEMA trailers left over from Katrina” anywhere and suspect that is a right-wing rumor based on the hysterical reporting from the sites mentioned below… I’ve seen lots of those trailers dumped on roadsides in Louisiana. I seriously doubt that any of them would be worth moving to Arizona. There is a lot of warehouse space in Nogales, Arizona, so I imagine if the government needs more, they could find it. Making it liveable for the people being housed there might take some time. And for what it’s worth, to the best of my knowledge, unaccompanied minors have never been quickly deported from the US. The law requires that they be treated as refugees, that they be reunited with parents if parents can be located. The large numbers of people coming now will take some time to process.
And, the right-wing media (Townhall and Breitbart and FOX) now report that some border patrol officers have been fired or threatened with firing for releasing pictures from inside the Texas detention facilities to the media… See:
Molly—thanks for this article. The media coverage about the children being housed in Nogales is confusing and sometimes confounding. The facts as I know it:
1) Fr. Sean Carroll, executive director of Kino Border Initiative, a key organization in humanitarian efforts at the border, was refused access to the warehouse facility in Nogales, AZ. on Thursday, Friday, and throughout the weekend. He contacted Border Patrol officials, FEMA, and others about what KBI and other humanitarian groups can do to alleviate the situation. No response.
2) Today, Monday, he made contact with Rev. David Meyers of FEMA and a conference call has been set up for Tuesday, June 10, to set up a protocol for providing aid to the children.
3) Journalists have not been allowed into the building (a warehouse), but have seen children from ages 1-18 coming out of the compound after meals. Older children have younger toddlers and a few infants in tow.
4) The Samaritans and other groups are gathering clothes, toys, games, for the kids.
5) The State agencies are being told that this is a federal matter, and so they are also not being allowed into the warehouse to see what is going on. Exception: a few State legislators did see where the children eat, but not where they sleep. One said it is a “sad situation.” FEMA, HHS and Homeland Security are the chief players in this drama.
6) I will be in Nogales, Sonora, tomorrow working at el comedor, the shelter for recently deported migrants. I plan to drive over to the warehouse in Arizona and see for myself what is going on. Of course, I don’t expect to be allowed in, but I want to check it out.
7) June 10 there will be the monthly vigil for Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, the 17 year old that was shot and killed by Border Patrol in 2012. A lot of Americans will be there to memorialize this young man as well as protest present US immigration policies.
8) No one seems to know what the plan is for these children. There are attempts to reunite them with families here in the US and back in their home country. The general consensus is that this situation is not going to go away. More children and women will be arriving in large numbers.