The cover photo accompanying Leo W. Banks' sensationalist opinion article ("Trashing Arizona," April 2) indicates the garbage is much deeper than the author's comprehension of the issue.
Banks describes legitimate environmental concern stemming from our broken and punitive immigration system, and then bastardizes the issue with his inflammatory, vigilante perspective on migrants.
He has no concern (and patronizingly dismisses those who do) for the grinding poverty, political repression and trade policies that drive people to leave their families, risk rape and death in the desert, and discard their remaining possessions before being crammed into a coyote's van. "The hardship is mostly self-imposed," he callously states.
He uses provocative words with scant context, leaving it to readers' fears and prejudices to fill in the blanks about this invasion of superstitious, cholera-infected, drug smuggling, pornography-reading, buffelgrass-sowing, desert-tortoise-eating illegal aliens. "We know the Arabs are coming," he warns. His blood boils when the trash indicates migrants have been reading up on their legal rights in the United States.
He chides environmentalists for silence on the issue, contending they're beholden to "open-borders liberals" for donations. I prefer to think that the Sierra Club refuses to be hijacked by a xenophobic, "us vs. them" agenda.
I would have expected something better from a publication that promotes itself as the "alternative to bland daily journalism in the Sonoran Desert."
You are correct, Mr. Banks: Our beautiful and fragile desert will be scarred "into the 22nd century"—by the 307 miles of border wall.
Last year, during the July monsoons, there was serious flooding in downtown Nogales. I believe the flooding was traced directly to the construction of the border wall. The wall blocks wildlife travel corridors. I have seen video of a mother mountain lion pacing back and forth on one side of the wall, trying to get to her cub on the other side.
In our beautiful Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, more than 50 acres of endangered masked bobwhite quail habitat were destroyed by the construction of the 7-mile Sasabe wall, according to the refuge manager.
When you come across trash in the desert, we will pick it up. There will be no long-term effect. I am sorry that cannot be said for the border wall.
I hoped the April 2 cover article was an April fool's joke, but sadly, no. Leo W. Banks managed to surpass even Tom Danehy in the category of "Most Idiotic Sensationalist Dribble in Print This Week." To Mr. Banks: Yet another ill-thought article about the border? Have you had writer's block for three years?
Clearly, Mr. Banks' pressing concern is not the environment, but rather, the brown menace. Obviously, if Banks were concerned about the environment, he would realize that the most brutal destruction in borderlands areas is caused by the border wall, with Border Patrol vehicle traffic coming in second to the bulldozers. And what about all damage to local flora when Border Patrol officers routinely intimidate detained migrants by pushing them into cactus?
Clearly, if Mr. Banks is truly concerned about the environment, he's just not thinking creatively enough. What about organizing a Hoover-ville of nouveau homeless, WPA-style, to form a Trash Brigade? That's some job creation! (I still miss FDR, even though I was born in the '70s.) Or better yet: Get Safeway and Bashas' to donate all their plastic bags, forcing consumers to use the inevitable reusable bags. You could create a pulley system of trash bags ... and hire some Border Patrol schmuck to stand there, emptying the bags at the end of the line.
Or, how about this: Mr. Banks, why don't you come and volunteer with No More Deaths? We pick up plenty of trash while we are out hiking the migrant trails with gallons of water. Of course, according to the courts, that's technically "litter," but what the heck: One man's litter is another man's life.
I am writing to applaud the brilliant and resourceful solution Leo W. Banks proposes in "Trashing Arizona": Who better to clean up the filthy trash heaps in the deserts than the selfish and negligent criminals who created them?
Not only would this help beautify our land, but penal labor is a time-honored tactic to instill responsibility and work ethic. Just think of the tremendous work done by Jews and other immigrant invaders in the labor camps of Nazi Germany; think of all the sparkling mines and plantations that thrived through the enslavement of indigenous tribes in the Americas.
But why hog penal migrant labor here on the border? Illegal immigrants could be rounded up into chain gangs to repay the rest of society. They could dig gardens at public elementary schools where their kids are educated. They could clean hospital rooms where they abuse our public health-care system.
As Banks asks, before immigrants are "pushed back into Mexico ... shouldn't we put them to work?" Yes, we should—with work visas and paychecks, not forced labor.