Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Arizona is at the center of the US debate over immigration after introducing a tough new law targeting illegal entrants to the country. The BBC's Robin Lustig traveled to the state's border with Mexico, and met those on the frontline of the issue.
If you look through the bars of the steel fence in Nogales,Southern Arizona, you find yourself looking at Nogales, Mexico.
The fence marks the international border between the US and Mexico - and it runs right through the town.
Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans cross this border illegally every year, and an increasing number of Americans want to stop them.
Dealing with illegal immigrants is what Border Patrol Agent Richard Funke does every day.As he drove me along the high steel border fence, he told me: "You see people watching that fence every hour of every day. Someone tries to get across every day of the year."
And sure enough, within minutes, we had spotted a young Mexican darting through a hole in the fence. But other agents had spotted him too; and he was soon back in Mexico again.
Footprints Out in the desert, Agent Funke suddenly pulled over to show me a trail leading from the road towards the border. "Look at those footprints," he said. "They're no more than a few hours old … someone was here earlier this morning, probably dropping off a consignment of drugs from across the border."
Thirty miles north of the border, I met Pat King, round-faced and friendly, at home on the ranch that she runs with her husband John. With her grand-daughters scampering about as the sun set below the hills and the shadows lengthened, she told me why she wants illegal immigrants stopped.
"They come across the ranch, right up by the house. Our fences are damaged, our gates are left open, the cattle stray.
"We see so much drug-smuggling, the Mexican cartels are getting much stronger. If the men go out and stumble across a group of smugglers, they're convinced they're going to end up with a bullet in the back."