In the three decades Carlota Wray has lived in Arivaca, she says she had never felt uncomfortable until Border Patrol interior checkpoints and immigration enforcement agents began to appear in the area.
To either enter or leave the community—located 11 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border—she, and other Arivaca residents, have to pass through at least one of two checkpoints.
It offends Wray, who was born in Mexico but is now a U.S. citizen, to constantly be questioned on her immigration status as she drives in and out of Arivaca. One time, even after answering she is a citizen, the agent still demanded to see an identification for proof, she says.
On Thursday, Wray and other fellow members of the organization People Helping People in the Border Zone
completed day 2 overseeing a Border Patrol checkpoint on Arizona Highway 286—roughly 26 miles from the border at Sasabe. This is the second checkpoint near Arivaca the group has targeted to monitor to collect data on possible civil rights violations, harassment, racial profiling, and overall the effectiveness of interior checkpoints. The ultimate goal is to shut them down.
"They are here, and they are not going anywhere. It is worse than a nightmare," Wray says, adding the interaction with Border Patrol is tougher for community members of color. "Their presence interrupts our lives. It steals our peace. The community was tranquil, we were in peace. Now we are at war with them."
Even though the previous day several Border Patrol agents said they did not mind having PHP members watching from the other side of the highway, when the group showed up to the checkpoint Thursday afternoon, they were welcomed by a "no authorized entry beyond this point" barrier—approximately 180 feet from the area where border agents inspect vehicles driving north from Sasabe. From that distance, the interactions were inaudible. And, when people crossed the line, a BP agent would come by and say they had to remain behind the white rope, and that the barrier was set up as a precaution.