When Americans think of Latino immigrants crossing the border illegally, the borders of the southwest U.S. in states such as Arizona, Texas, and California most often come to mind. A recent article in The New York Times titled "In Far Northwest, a New Border Focus on Latinos" addresses a new area of concern for border patrol - the Pacific northwest.
Increased Border Control Efforts
The state of Washington borders Canada and the two are separated by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This has increasingly become a focus of the U.S. Border Patrol. According to the article, "[s]ince the terrorist of 2001, the federal government has kept a more careful watch on the country's northern border." In one small area, "the number of Border Patrol agents has risen tenfold, from 4 in 2006 to about 40." Increased efforts in the Pacific northwest are seen in the U.S.'s budget, as "[t]his month, the agency is completing construction of a $10 million dollar office in Port Angeles, a city of 19,000", which will house as many as 50 officers.
The Border Patrol's increased presence has some people feeling uncomfortable. The article tells of several examples where Hispanics have felt singled out because of their skin tone, and some Hispanics are feeling uneasy because they are being "watched." While the Border Patrol deals head on with illegal immigration, they also focus on keeping the borders secure by trying to stop any acts of terrorism, criminal organization, and illegal importation of drugs and firearms.
Why the Northwest?
One of the reasons why increased border patrol efforts have been implemented in the northwest is that many immigrants "work picking salal, a wild shrub whose branches are used in floral arrangements around the world." Since the increased patrol efforts, the number of pickers and the business affected by salal have both noticeably decreased. One such business is about a fourth of what it was before the increased border patrol efforts began.
Many people in the area are complaining of racial profiling, claiming that Border Patrol agents are stopping people based off of skin tone and that the agents do not stop white people in the same fashion as the darker-skinned Mexicans. Schools and businesses in the area have all noticed and commented on the decreased numbers of Mexicans in the area recently, and some people who claim they were profiled have filed lawsuits.
This article touches on a few key areas of immigration and is an interesting read. Whether the main reason behind the increased number of Border Patrol agents was to fight illegal immigration or secure our borders against criminal activity, the agents are there and people have noticed.
To view this article in full, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/us/hard-by-canada-border-fears-of-crackdown-on-latino-immigration.html?_r=1