Apologies for the long hiatus in posting. Work and life have been keeping me busy, and at times, despite the strangeness that is the border, crazy events start to feel mundane. Of course much has happened on the border and in Mexico since I’ve last posted, including a historic trip by Obama to Mexico, hopefully a start to productive work on immigration and drug policy and of course the swine flu.
Though the epicenter of the outbreak is 1500 miles to the south, I panicked sufficiently last week to evacuate a friend out of DF, more out of fear of an inept medical system than actual flu contraction, and went on a Nogales-wide prowl for masks and germex. The mask wearing lasted for about 20 minutes, when, itchy, and cynical that it was doing any good with most people not wearing it, or wearing it symbolically around their necks or with mouth or nose exposed, I decided to take it off too. I later learned that masks were probably not that useful, and in better news, that the flu is not seeming to be too virulent or deadly yet. You just need to get medical care when you notice symptoms. Therein lies the potential issue for Mexico and other developing countries with less than desirable healthcare systems and streched resources. There have been reports in Mexico of hospitals actually turning away patients out of ignorance or fear to contract the flu themselves. Very auspicious.
Taking a break today from refreshing the drudge report on the swine flu, a friend and I took a trip to Kartchner Caverns near Benson, AZ. Approaching a Border Patrol checkpoint we hadn’t seen before, we slowed to a halt, but since the cars in front of us weren’t stopping or rolling down their windows, we slowly started moving forward. The Border Patrol officer peered into our window, and noticing that my friend was “driving while brown”, indicated for us to stop and roll down the windows. “Are you both citizens?” she asked, and my friend shook his head, pulling out his resident card. Suddenly, presumptively, she switched into halting Spanish. “Si tiene esta tarjeta, tiene que parar, siempre. Para esto está el letrero. Si es ciudadano, le voy a dejar pasar.” (If you have this card, you have to stop, always. That’s why the sign is there. If you’re a citizen, I’ll let you go by.) She turns to me, “¿Y usted?” (And you?). At this point, I was seething. “Actually, we speak perfect English, and yes, I am a citizen.” A bit startled, she said “Oh, that’s great,” and waved us through. It was offensive beyond belief. She had assumed, by looking at us and despite our residence in the States, that to communicate her point, she would have to speak in Spanish. It was racial profiling at its finest, and a call to take up the baton again and sound injustices on this blog.