On the morning of March 27, 2013, I awoke to the news that four U.S. senators were in my hometown of Nogales, AZ, to speak about immigration teform: Republican Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, and Democratic senators Michael Bennet (Colorado) and Chuck Schumer (New York).
My initial reaction was that of enthusiasm and happiness, for a couple of reasons. First, after watching McCain talk and talk and talk on all the national media outlets about how difficult and unsecure life is on the border, he was FINALLY going to visit us! An actual border town in the state he represents. The other reason was to see senator Schumer. I split my time growing up in Arizona and in the Bronx, and it was wonderful to see the senators of both my home states together in my hometown.
I got on the phone to call my good friend George in New York City. George is a respected liberal news talk political analyst on a well-known radio station. I told George about the senators’ visit, and he said, “Wonderful! I hope they speak on what’s most important about the border.” At this point, knowing my extremely liberal friend, I was waiting to hear “reform” come out of his mouth, but instead he continued by saying, “…BORDER PROTECTION!”
I quickly replied to him, “What?!?”
He continued: “Yes, protecting our borders is far more important than an immigration reform.”
I was flabbergasted to say the least.
“George, you sound like a radical conservative, what are you talking about?”
As I explained to my liberal friend George from New York about life on the Arizona border, I felt a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. All of a sudden my initial enthusiasm had turned into worry. How is it that a very good friend of mine, liberal to the marrow, can wholeheartedly believe that the U.S.–Mexico border is a war zone?
Then it hit me. Big time.
The national media has perpetually portrayed an extremely inaccurate image of life on the border, all based on sensational lies created by politicians like McCain. I felt as if the visit of these four senators to my hometown was going to turn into a circus and we were the stage being used for their “war zone” propaganda.
My biggest fear soon became a reality, when the now-infamous McCain tweet (and picture) went live yesterday. It read: “Just witnessed a woman successfully climb an 18 ft bollard fence a few yards from us in #Nogales.” I saw the picture., I saw the local news reports, and my heart sank. They had done it. They had successfully pulled off their stunt, to not only falsely portray life on the border to senators Bennet and Schumer, but to the rest of the nation.
I and the majority of the citizens of this town and county automatically knew this was a staged stunt. Now I’m not turning a blind eye to the fact that there are border jumpers on a daily basis here, but any local on either side of the border can tell you that NO ONE would jump the fence, so close to the border guard station, in the middle of the day.
Mexican citizens witnessed an injustice just last November when a 16-year-old was shot to death by a Border Patrol agent after he jumped the fence back to Mexico fleeing from him. So really? Jump the fence so close to the guard station? How ironic that it happened at the precise moment Sen. McCain was doing an interview for local TV cameras and that the Border Patrol agents came in heroically to save the day.
No, this was just not right, not right at all. It was at this point I understood how my liberal friend George in New York can have such a misinformed image of the border, because that is what is fed to America daily, by the “liberal” media, by politicians that do not want reform due to the fear that those that legally get their papers could one day vote them out of office.
Truly March 27, 2013 was a dark day for Nogales, AZ.
The fact of the matter is that border security isn’t even our biggest worry in this community, it’s THE ECONOMY. We are the second poorest county in the state, our local politicians look out for their own self-interests, and our representatives in Phoenix cry wolf about border security.
Meanwhile yesterday’s stunt continues to kill an already-dying economy, as it once again paints Nogales, AZ as an unsecure war zone—a community where no corporation would ever consider opening a business.
And local politicians are not the only ones who think for just themselves, so do the national ones. The GOP fears that Latino immigrants could one day get the right to vote and make their party extinct, but what these fools don’t realize is the children of these immigrants are growing up and they will vote. Oh wait, that is already happening.
So why don’t we put the bull aside and live up to the true creed of our beloved Constitution: that all men are created equal and have unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As for yesterday, to me, it will always be known as the “Nogales Screw Job.” A national sham.
Thanks, Sen. McCain.
Mucho Martínez was born in Nogales, AZ, and spent his time growing up between southern AZ and the Bronx. After earning his radio stripes in NYC and working with the César Chávez Foundation to help build the foundation’s first urban radio show, Mucho made a mark with his radio shows in central and southern California. After his successes in California, he returned home to Nogales, and you can hear him every weekday afternoon on Maxima991.