According to a May 22 report in the Houston Chronicle, border vigilantism has not been confined to Arizona. Since January of 1999, five separate shootings of migrants have taken place in the Del Rio sector of the U.S. Border Patrol. Two victims were shot dead. Local officials contend that newcomers to the area mainly retirees from out of state who purchased ranchettes along the Rio Grande are largely to blame. “The average rancher has learned from his daddy and his granddaddy that the best thing to do is ignore the immigrants,” Kinney County Sheriff L.K. “Buddy” Burgess told the Chronicle. “It’s the newcomers who are scared of them and think they have to apprehend them.” That was apparently the scenario that resulted in the May 13 shooting death of Eusebio de Haro, twenty-three, of Guanajuato, Mexico. According to investigators, de Haro and a companion approached the Brackettville-area residence of Sam Blackwood, apparently to ask for water. Blackwood, a seventyfour-year-old retired military officer from Arkansas, told the men to leave his property. He then followed them, and for reasons still unclear, shot de Haro in the leg. According to investigators, de Haro was shot from behind in broad daylight, at a distance, in a location removed from Blackwood’s property. Blackwood’s wife called the police to report that her husband had just shot someone, but by the time they arrived de Haro had bled to death. Murder charges have been filed against Blackwood. “In my opinion, he was trying to apprehend the two men,” Sheriff Burgess told the Chronicle. In another instance, one recent transplant from Louisiana, Patrick Bordelon, is accused of shooting migrants on two separate occasions. On June 6 of last year, Bordelon \(a allegedly shot a sixteen-year-old migrant three times with a shotgun. The boy survived, and Bordelon was charged with assault. While out on bond for that shooting, he allegedly shot another migrant in the back of the head on the Mexican side of the river. The body of that sixteen-year-old was found in the river on November 12. Bordelon has been charged with murder. Del Rio area District Attorney Tom Lee said residents in rural communities near Del Rio have complained of frequent burglaries by Mexicans, who wait just across the river until they know houses are vacant. But the shootings do not appear to be part of a coordinated effort by border landowners, and have shocked long-time residents. “We take a dim view of shooting other people in the back out here, I can tell you that,” Lee told the Chronicle. N.B. From the Texas Front p 1 young burrito makers almost all of them from Mexico working behind the counter. In the past, immigration raids have been frequent. “We haven’t had a visit from Immigration for over a year,” confirms Beatriz Johnson, an organizer for the San Francisco Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, a local that has organized many undocumented members. The union has been in the forefront of the thirteen-millionmember American Federation of Labor’s drive to organize mostly Mexican workers. The picture is much the same all across the U.S. In Chicago, where Cipriano Ramirez was headed before the Barnetts “mistook” him for a dog, a tight labor market has opened ..the door for tens of thousands of Mexican temporary workers who no longer need fear Migra raids so long as the U.S. economy is booming. Indeed, the predominantly Mexican laundry workers in Chicago recently won a contract that protects them from Immigration raids and even guarantees their jobs back should they be deported. Seniority is guaranteed even if the deported worker returns bearing different identification papers and a new identity. Workplace raids by Immigration & Naturalization agents bagged 22,000 illegal workers in 1998 but only 8,000 last year. At the same time, according to Mexican government estimates, the U.S. boom has increased the flow north from 800,000 to 1.2 million Mexican workers over the past five years. The reasons for the resurgent race to the border can be summed up in two words: salary differentials. A recent survey of 500 Mexicans working in the U.S. \(reported by the Mexico City daily La found that their average weekly wages were $278. The average weekly wage earned by those same workers before they left Mexico was $31. If an undocumented worker can get across the border alive, opportunities abound in a country that is experiencing its record-breaking ninth consecutive quarter of growth. In April, the high octane U.S. economy produced 360,000 new jobs and the available worker pool shrank to its lowest level since the U.S. Labor Department began keeping records. While the ranchers in Ariiona take up arms to keep the Mexican invasion at bay, such diverse voices as Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, A.F.L.-C.I.O. president John Sweeney, and the National are calling for the relaxation of immigration laws, so the much-needed Mexican workers can get in the door. Their motives for immigrant advocacy are, however, distinct. For Greenspan, probably the most powerful economist on the planet whose life work has been to contain the U.S. inflation rate, undocumented workers are a hedge against inflation. In a tight labor market, wages go up and cut into profits, thereby triggering inflationary price hikes. A flood of Mexican minimum-wage workers keeps wages, and therefore inflation, lower. The N.A.M. and the nation’s investment bankers endorse the strategy because it promises to prolong the current profit-taking. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. looks at the demographics \(Mexicans are the fastest growwell as the economics, and calls for a blanket amnesty to legalize as many as 2,000,000 undocumented workers. The giant labor federation is also calling for an end to sanctions against employers who, knowingly or not, hire indocumentados. Ten years ago, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. lobbied hard for the passage of employer sanc THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 JUNE 9, 2000
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