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The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions, and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world. My Plan

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I write, self publish and sell books about touring

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START HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
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(see all 3 book)

The Problems with the Border Area Between Mexico and the USA Illegal Aliens Difficulties, Deaths, and Struggles
(May, 2002)

Even though we lived in Arizona for several years and knew that there was a problem with the border.  We had no idea how big the problem was.   In Prescott, Arizona, where we lived for several years, we knew several Mexican immigrants and thought that they were decent people.  When Cindie first moved to Prescott, we rented a house downtown next to a half dozen illegal immigrants who were working all day long as landscape laborers.  They didn't speak much English and liked to keep a low profile.  But we could tell that they worked hard and sent most of their money back to their families in Mexico.

As we approached southern Arizona.   We started hearing commercials on the radio advertising various automobile security devices, indicating that there was a large number of auto thefts.  The locals in Sierra Vista also told us that car theft is a big problem here because illegals can steal a car and drive it across the border and have it's identity changed forever.

We also had to change our plans of riding through the San Pedro River Nature Conservatory.  This would have been a three day ride, from the border north, along a car less bike path, through a beautiful green riparian area.  When we told the waiter in Sierra Vista, Arizona of our plans he sternly warned us that the illegal Mexicans use the lush green waterway as a corridor for sneaking north of the border zone.  He told us they come through in groups of a dozen or more at night and that camping would almost likely result in a robbery, or worse.

We did in fact see a family of illegal aliens camping in a remote area at the back of Parker Canyon Lake.  It was a family with a child of about 1 years old, obviously hiding out during the day and walking for hours at night.  Our interaction with them was tense but non confrontational.  They just didn't want us to tell the border patrol.

In Portal, Arizona, the Forest Ranger told us that illegal aliens were a big problem, and that you could regularly see van loads of dozens of illegals crammed into the back.  He told us that they were the cause of regular car break-ins at the trail heads and that was discouraging people from hiking in these beautiful mountains.  We were especially warned about men with large backpacks who are said to be very violent because they are carrying large amounts of cocaine or other drugs.  It is said that dead Gringos do not call the police.

On the road to Douglas, Arizona we were camped on the side of the road in a valley 20 miles north of the border. We heard that the US Border Patrol catches 10,000 Illegal Mexicans a month in that valley alone. This is estimated to be only 10% of the total people crossing  just in this area alone. We hid the best we could but I stayed up all night to be on "watch."  I heard whispers in Spanish but no encounters. A rancher, who stopped his truck to give us a coke, said that the illegals often cut irrigation lines and drain his 10,000 gallon water tank. That is crazy because they are emptying the water source that the next bunch of Mexicans are counting on, never mind the cattle.

On the Mexican side we camped in a mountain pass and after examining the abundant trash it was obvious that it was a staging area for Mexicans preparing to sneak across. It was sad. It looked like the "coyotes" told the Mexican families to lighten their loads. The area was full of little backpacks, kids clothes, and even their stuffed animals. I stayed up most of the night there as well.

Do not get me wrong. I have nothing against Mexicans but I fear anyone who is so desperate that they make their kids abandon their toys in order to save weight. Besides, these Mexicans are usually from southern Mexico where it is not a desert.  They often do not understand the desert and the distances involved. They run out of food and water. I think anybody, no matter what nationality, would stop (or worse) a couple of cyclist to steal food and water to save their kids lives.

This brings up the question of national security.  Jokingly, the locals said that you could get anything into our country by just hiding it in a bail of pot coming over the border.  Seriously, a terrorists could easily sneak a nuclear bomb into the USA this way, steal a car, drive it to a major population center, and let it murder millions while they slept.  All this talk about checking peoples Visas is OK but we will never be safe as long as thousands of people a week are crossing our borders.

The reason so many are sneaking into the USA is obvious.  The USA has one of the greatest employment needs in the world.  Unemployment is usually less than 5%.   This drives our wages up to the point that American businesses could not survive without an alternative source of labor.  The average Mexican can earn four or five times more, with less hours, and under better working conditions just by sneaking across the border.  They can not be blamed for trying to better their families lives.

So, what is the answer?   Beefing up the Border Patrol does not seem to work.   We have a very long and desolate border with Mexico and we will NEVER stop or catch even a fraction of the people coming north looking for work.  It is like trying to stamp out a swarm of bees with a fly swatter.  We can not realistically build a Berlin like wall because it would be devastating to migratory animals.  Besides walls can be crossed or tunneled under.  There is also the question of why would we want to stop Mexicans from filling the jobs that Americans no longer willing to take.  I believe that if the USA magically cut off the flow of cheap labor to our country that many industries would close because they could not fill the less desirable jobs that are necessary to continue operation.

I believe that I have the answer.  First we can not tolerate companies in the USA who hire illegal aliens.  When they work "under the table" they do not pay taxes and that is hard on our economy.  Furthermore, we can not afford to educate or take care of Illegal Aliens medically when they do not pay taxes.  The free school with ESL programs is a major drain on our limited educational resources.  We heard that the Medical centers in southern Arizona are bankrupt because Illegal Aliens never pay their bill or taxes that support these medical centers.  Illegal Aliens are exactly that - ILLEGAL.

The answer is to issue thousands of legal temporary Work Visas.  Simply take the illegal out of illegal alien.  This would take away the need for Mexicans to sneak over the border.  They would happily apply  for  the work visas in order to not risk the safety of their families in those long desert crossings.    With thousands less people to attempt to round up the US Border Patrol could concentrate on drug runners and terrorists.   When the Mexicans are working legally they would of course pay their fair share of taxes and be able to receive health insurance from their employers.  Mexican kids could legally attend public school and the schools could receive adequate funding because their parents are paying taxes.    American businesses would still receive a continuous flow of labor that they so desperately need to continue operation. 

I would insist on a few provisions in exchange for the new work visas for Mexican citizens.  The current Mexicans economy greatly depends on US dollars flowing south from their citizens working in the US.  This gives us some leverage to get them to change a few things.  The changes in policy I would suggest for both countries are as follows:

First, change the US law that says that if a baby is born in this country it is automatically a citizen of the US.  This would stop pregnant mothers from running across the border and into a medical clinic to give birth  just so they can receive citizenship along with their baby.   Believe it or not, this happens everyday in the states along the border.

Second, Mexico would have to issue work visas to Americans who want to work south of the border.  Years ago I tried to get a job in southern Mexico but no one would hire me.  The restaurants that I asked about working at told me that they could not hire me because the police would eventually find out and they would be shut down.  I understand that most Americans would not be interested in working in Mexico but if we are issuing work visas to Mexicans the Mexican government would have to at least offer them to us.    I also believe a few Americans in high tech specialty fields could find decent wages and jobs in Mexico.  The expertise and technology that they would bring with them would be a great asset to the Mexican economy. 

Third, Mexico would have to drop the ridicules charge of US22 per person to travel in their country. 

Of course this is just my opinion based on recent observations on both sides of the border.  You are welcome to email me with your feedback if you like.

Tim Travis

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