Friday, January 7, 2011

Please Drive me to Phoenix

In mid-December I had my first encounter with an illegal immigrant. There are a lot of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico to the US, crossing the border near Nogales which is only about 40 miles south of where we are. Particularly near the border (where drug cartels are especially active) there is a lot of violence, and sometimes illegal immigrants are involved. Because of the violence and because of the number of people who try to enter the US from Mexico, there are a lot of border patrol agents working in this area. "Illegals" are sometimes seen passing through the mine area so it is something that we are aware of and look out for while working here. I never expected to meet one up-close and personal.

I was allowed to leave work early one day so that I could finish packing up our apartment in preparation for our trip to Australia (another post on that soon). As I was about to leave the employee car park (yes, I was still on the mine property) a person appeared at my window, indicating that they needed help. I asked what the problem was and the man (who looked about 19 and was covered in dirt from head to toe) asked me to drive him to Phoenix. I said no. He asked me to drive him to Tucson and I said no. He again asked me to help him. I told him that if he came with me to the mine security gate (which was a short walk away), someone there would be able to help him. I locked my car then walked with him to the gate and while we walked he told me that he had walked from Mexico, and that he was very hungry and thirsty. At the gate I explained the situation and got the man some water. The security officer called the border patrol and they came and picked the man up.

I realise that what I did was dangerous (the man could have been armed and he could have attacked me or taken the car, or both) but he looked very scared and obviously so hungry, thirsty and tired that he decided to approach someone and ask for help. I did not feel threatened by him.