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Window, and had one of those standing-on-a-planet-swimining-amongst-the-stars moments so memorably delivered in the Big Bend. Those moments in which the very concept of a political borderof a meaningful line in this sandstands revealed in its absurdity. One of those moments, of Abbeyinspired confidence in the primacy of desert logic over human meddling, brought to us by the fine folks at the National Park Service, and to be frank, now and again, by our drug money. I stashed my jerky in the steel bear box, but there were no bears out this night. I didn’t even see any snakes, which was OK, because I’m afraid of them too. The Mexican citizens of Paso Lajitas who cross the river to work are most affected, followed closely by the schoolchildren who cross to learn. To cross legally, they’ll have to drive over four hours of dirt roads up to Ojinaga, cross into Presidio, then an hour and a half down Highway 170, over the big hill, to Lajitas, and then back again at night. Several families have already moved up to Ojinaga, to make the trip more bearable. Garza says that the “enforcement operation” of May 10 was prompted by intelligence indicating that “as many as 170 individuals” were crossing at Lajitas every day. “I can’t tolerate that level of activity on a portion of my river. After. May 10, when 21 arrests were made, Terlingua CSD superintendent Kathy Killingsworth told the Alpine Observer she “did not notice any significant drop in student enrollment in the month of May,” but the paper analyzed attendance records and found a 60-percent increase in absenteeism during the week after the raid. In mid-June, Terlingua resident Patricia Kerns organized a human rights workshop for locals. Maria Jimenez, director of Houston’s Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project, and Fernando Garcia, director of El Paso’s Border Network for Human Rights, arrived to speak to some 40-odd residents, who expressed a consensus that the area demands a legal border crossing. That idea received a wet towel in the June 13 edition of The Presidio-Ojinaga International, as reporter Dan Keane outlined the 40 U.S. and Mexican bureaucracies with fingers in the approval process for a new Port of Entry. The headlines in that day’s edition: “Legal crossings a long way off, officials say” and “Immigrant dies in desert near Sanderson.” Frank Deckert, Superintendent of Big Bend National Park, is somehow candid and circumspect at the same time. For years, he says, the Park has cooperated with Customs through a “memorandum of agreement” regarding tourist crossings within the Park’s boundaries. He has had recent discussions with Border Patrol regarding these issues, he says, and hopes to negotiate some sort of agreement that would return things to the way they were before May 10. So far, happily, the new priorities have had little affect on his domain, because so far it has been summer, and summer is not his park’s most populous season. So far there have been no arrests made and no fines levied within the Park boundaries, but policy-wise “it’s still a little sketchy, I guess,” Deckert says. Garza sees no sketchiness: “I have nothing going with any entity at the moment to discuss that type of crossing. Crossings right now have to be done at a designated point of entry.” These closings, Garza says, are nothing new. The crossings have always been illegal, and if they’ve been poorly enforced in the past, that’s merely the consequence of prioritizing available resources. Lajitas boatman Jose Armando “Gordo” Rodrigues Puentes, according to his Marfa lawyer, was finally deported in early July, after almost a month in an. El Paso detention facility. Border Patrol recorded another seven arrests during a second operation on May 24. Further operations, BP reports, are “likely,” just as long as people keep breaking the law. During the last weekend of June, Border Patrol stopped a tractor trailer in Sierra Blanca, headed east on Interstate 10, with 8,600 pounds of pot, about $7 million worth. And me, I’m headed up to Presidio, with plans to cross the border into Ojinagaremembered fondly for its clay-oven bakery and cheap Mennonite cheese and the camaran cocktail at La Fogatawith hopes of finding a bar with cold Carta Blanca and a TV tuned to tonight’s World Cup match between Mexico and the U.S. On the road up, the fear strikes again, and I begin to worry whether or not this is such a good idea. If the U.S. loses, certainly, there’s a good chance my Carta Blancas will be free. But if we win? If history has taught us one thing, it’s that only fools underestimate the passions of futbol fans. I cross the border legally, without incident, and spend the afternoon walking around. La Fogata is gone. I ask about where I might watch the match, scheduled for broadcast at 1:30 in the morning, only to be told that the bars will be closed by then. So I check into a hotel near the square and spend the evening sipping beers from an ice chest, watching three hours of pre-game hosted mostly by puppets, and finally the contest itself, which the U.S. wins 2-0, despite being pretty consistently outplayed. When it’s over, there are no war cries down the hall, no explosions in the streets, no Federales battering down my door looking for a sacrificial gringo. It is in fact one of the quietest nights I’ve ever spent in the border country, and I fall asleep wondering, as I so often do out there, just what, exactly, I’d thought I was afraid of. As this issue of the Observer went to press,former Houstonian Brad Tyer had just entered Travis County. 7/19/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7