. bottom “They don’t know what we do here, how many vehicles we seize, said the sheriff. He refers indirectly to Operation Linebacker, Gov. Rick Perry’s border security program created by the Texas Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, which last year distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to each of the coalition’s 16 member departments. But nothing came to counties like Brooks. “It’s out of hand. They may be the linebacker but we’re the receiver,” said Lozano. “What about the border 100 miles inside?” Police Chief Eden Garcia put it this way: “We should be included because the brunt of the force is coming through our communities. They’re being housed in our communities and you better bet the chases are dangerous?’ \(Both police and sheriff’s departments have a policy of no pursuit. Spooked its own lot for seized vehicles; last year they brought in $125,746. “Backpackers” is the name for small-time runners who go around the checkpoint carrying dope, “marijuana and coke, nickel and dime stuff,” said Chief Garcia. But for the police too the big issue has become human traffic, because more who want to make a buck are turning to it. “We’re not talking about drugs any more. Every car we stop is immigrants. It just pays more:’ Lourdes Trevino-Cantu still calls them “travelers.” Trevino is a descendant of Ramon de la Garza himself, one of the county’s earliest settlers, who came in the day when tracts here were still granted by Mexico and Spain. Customarily, when passing migrants asked for food, Trevino’s mother would slip inside the house, make a stack of tortillas, and take them out to the hungry travelers. But things have recently changed. “If it was the immigrants of old there’d be no fear; you’d live and let live. If they wanted to improve their lives that’s fine. Before, the travelers came alone or with one or two of their family, and they were humble, polite. Now they come in packs. They’re desperate, bold. A lot of them are pretty well dressed, and everyone seems to want to go to Houston. It’s a completely different element.” Analysts and townspeople agree the vast majority of migrants are Mexicans who are very poor, or slightly less than poor and looking for a better job, or attempting to reach family. According to Sheriff Lozano, however, the first identified MS-13 gang member among the migrants was caught in Brooks County. Coyotes often have criminal records. Lourdes Trevino’s extended family is more cautious now on the homestead, she said. A sister is constructing a fence around her house perimeter, a first for them. Small habits, the kind that make up the comforting weave of a life one knows, are changing. Corina Molina, the county auditor, used to come out to the driveway in the mornings and start her engine while she returned inside to gather up a child, or exchanged pleasantries with neighbors doing the same thing. Since an undocumented migrant under pursuit grabbed one of the running cars and took off, the women of the neighborhood dropped the custom. Another county employee, Katy Garza, said she had witnessed a police action that very morning at one of the safe houses used by smug JUNE 1, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.