Bertha Gonzalez’ Story: Despite Recent Outsider Disclaimers, American Border Communities Are Very Dangerous Places

Don’t try telling the six children and more than twenty grandchildren of Berta Gonzalez that American border communities are safe places in which to live.  Just days after articles in “USA Today” and the “New York Times” declared American border residents safe from spill-over drug violence in Mexico, along comes yet another violent event on August 8, 2011, to the border town of Falfurrias, Texas, population 4,821.

Ms. Bertha Gonzalez, age seventy, was asleep in her home some sixty miles from the Mexican border, when a Chevy Suburban driven by a coyote crashed into her bedroom.  Inside the Suburban there was also a “lookout” in the front seat along with six illegal immigrants in the back.  Hours earlier the illegal immigrants crossed the border south of Falfurrias, hopped into waiting transportation for the ride north, then exited the vehicle to escape detection at the Falfurrias Border Patrol check point.

How did they get passed the Border Patrol checkpoint? As many, many do, they simply walked around it, then jumped back into the waiting Suburban at the Falfurrias Sonic Drive In.

Chased by local police, the Suburban loaded with illegal immigrants slammed first into a fence, then an exterior wall of Ms. Gonzalez’s home.  It then rammed through her house, hit Ms. Gonzalez as she slept in her bedroom, and dragged her fifteen feet into her backyard.  Ms. Gonzalez died at the scene.

Romeo Cantu and Marcos Adrian, both American citizens, were arrested by the Falfurrias police and charged with human smuggling.  Other charges are pending against them.

Eden Garcia, the Police Chief in Falfurrias which is in Brooks County, told a reporter, “I’m without words.  Really no one deserves to die that way.  Nobody does.”

Funeral services for Ms. Bertha Gonzalez were held in Falfurrias on Thursday, August 11th.

USA and New York Times reporters who spent little real time in border communities and possess limited cultural knowledge or genuine experience about the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, got their stories about how safe border communities are all wrong.  Not only will border residents, if but asked, recount many instances of unreported crimes of violence that they have personally witnessed, but drug-related crimes instigated by the Mexican drug cartels are not the only kinds of violence they face simply because they live on the border.

Take the death, for instance, of Ms. Bertha Gonzalez on August 8, 2011, in Falfurrias, Texas.  This needless homicide has nothing to do with the spillover of drug violence into American border communities, but has everything to do with the very real problems directly associated with illegal immigration.  Lacking a comprehensive immigration policy mirroring contemporary political, economic, and social realities, American border communities, despite the pontificating of outside reporters, are dangerous places in which to reside.

Selected References:

“Falfurrias Crash Suspects Held Without Bond”, 8/11/11, Corpus Christi, KRIS-TV website @ http://www.kristv.com/full-coverage/falfurrias-woman-killed-during-chase-of-illegal-immigrants/

Lindsay Curtis, “Falfurrias Woman is Killed After Car Crashes Through Bedroom”, KRIS-TV, 8/6/11, @ Lcurtis@kristv.com

“On U.S. Side, Cities Are Havens from Drug Wars”, Alex Gomez, Jack Gillum, and Kevin Johnson, “USA Today”, 7/15/11, page 1A.

Andrew Rice, “Life on the Line”, page 20, “The New York Times Magazine”, 7/31/11.

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