Following the cyote trail: Field update from BOb’s Gabriella Sanchez

Driving the infamous trail into Phoenix, Arizona from Sonora, Mexico, BOb’s Gabriella Sanchez contemplates whether Arizona’s extreme border control policies have impacted the smuggling market.

Arrests have reached record lows along this path and many border crossers have been pushed to enter via the more dangerous Southeast Texas border, where number of deaths continues to rise.

By legalizing racial profiling in legislation with approval from the governor, Arizona put itself at the centre of international scrutiny for this border control practice. In the mid-2000s, the Sonora-Arizona line was not only the main point of entry for irregular migrants, but the most deadly due to exposure, accidents, and violence.

In the midst of this, local law enforcement fought for funding to become involved with immigration and used tactics like checkpoints, hyper-surveillance, and driver profiling which resulted in soaring numbers of people being arrested.

Much of this arrest push was around fear of smugglers and violent criminal gangs coming across the border. However, many of those arrested, were local citizens, not smugglers or even irregular migrants. From legal permanent residents with outstanding traffic fines to US citizens profiled as undocumented, people were arrested in droves.

Now that the number of arrests have reached record lows, Arizona’s policies seemed to have, instead of solving the problem, simply made the problem Texas’ issue.

Read the Gabriella’s ‘Postcard from the Frontline’, ‘Following the Cyote Trail’ for the American Anthropology Association here. For more information on Gabriella Sanchez’s work, visit BOb.

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Border Crossings Observatory