Volunteer defends U.S./Mexico border

Some private citizens are working on their own to stop migrants

(CNN) – The trail for Mexican migrants trying to enter the U.S. is one filled with hope, horror and hidden cameras. Here’s a rare view of the stories and faces of some of the people who call the borderlands home.

On the border’s edge from Nogales, Arizona, several dozen migrants gather for breakfast inside a shelter known as the Kino border initiative. It’s where Jesus Garcia is trying to figure out how to get into the United States. Over a map, he recounts how far he’s traveled since he left home the day before Donald Trump was elected president.

Ed Lavandera CNN correspondent: “He started here in Honduras and made his way across Guatemala here into this little town and this is where he crossed into Mexico.”

Garcia: “no he podido pasar.”

Ed Lavandera, CNN correspondent: “He says he hasn’t been able to cross. He says he left home on November 7th of last year and he’s tried three times already to get across but he hasn’t been able to.”

Garcia says it’s the first time he’s ever tried crossing the border illegally and says it’s harder than he imagined. “Voy a tratar y tratar hasta que pueda.” Lavandera translated, “He says if I made it this far, I’m going to keep trying.”

On the other side, a legion of border patrol agents, cameras, barricades, ground sensors are waiting. Even some private citizens working on their own to stop migrants like Jesus Garcia from getting across.

“This is a scene in the matrix.” In Tim Foley’s world, the border lands are a threatening, dangerous place. “This is the red pill, this what the world really looks like.”

Foley leads a volunteer group called “Arizona border recon,” that patrols the border around Sasabe, Arizona. A town on the U.S.-Mexico border with less than 100 people.

Foley said, “I’ve been called everything in the book. I’ve been called a domestic extremist.”

The southern poverty law center, which monitors hate groups in the U.S., says Foley’s group is made up of “native extremists.” Foley sees the flow of drugs, undocumented migrants, and the wide open spaces of the border as the country’s biggest threat.

Along the nearly two-thousand mile southern U.S. border, there is already about 700 mile of fencing and barricades already in place. Here in Sasabe, Arizona this steel, see-through fence stretches for several miles. However, as you approach the end of town, it abruptly comes to an end, like these border fences often do, as it stretches out into rugged, remote terrain in the Arizona desert.

“I put all my cameras about five minutes from the road.” Foley relies on a collection of cameras he hides in the brush to capture the movements of drug smugglers. He often shares that information and the videos with border patrol agents.

Foley said, “You need boots on the ground. That’s what keeping you out there. Good thing we have this up here.”

Foley voted for Donald Trump and wants to see all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. deported and additional border patrol agents moved closer to the Mexican border.
However, he’s not convinced trump or anyone else can change the reality he sees. “When you’re reactive to a problem, you are always going to be behind the solution.”

For many, like 18-year-old Marisela Ramirez, they try to come illegally from Mexico. She was caught by border patrol with a group of migrants and quickly deported. She wanted to find work in the u-s to help support her elderly parents.

She trembles as she recalls the experience of being smuggled across the border. “No se que va pasar.” Lavandera continued, “I asked her if she was going to try to cross again, her brother is still detained in the United States. She’s waiting for him to get out and she’s not really sure what they’re going to do next. She’s waiting for him to be sent back here and they’ll figure out what they’re going to do next.”

It’s the cycle that never ends on the border.

President Trump on Wednesday signed a series of executive orders to reshape U.S. immigration policies. The orders seek to beef up border patrol, end sanctuary cities and begin an ‘immediate’ construction of the border wall.