By Mary Matzek

I take issue with Victor Hanson’s politicizing immigration between Mexico and the U.S. as a liberal institution. He falsely characterizes the existing 650-mile security fence as an “inexpensive fence.”

What I saw was solid steel. In places waist-high bars and, where needed, taller bars. I’ve traveled into Mexico from Brownsville Texas, from Laredo, from Big Bend National Park, and El Paso.

I’ve visited Mexico from Bisbee, Nogales and Douglas, Arizona and from Demming, New Mexico. I lived in Yuma and crossed about 30 miles south of Yuma from San Luis de Colorado.

I and my traveling companion saw friendly commerce between our two countries. Many miles of border are not even tempting to illegals because they would find themselves in a wilderness where no services are available to melt into the population of the U. S. They can’t carry enough food and water to survive miles from civilization.

In less frequented areas, helicopters patrol from above. All-terrain vehicles discourage illegals in this way: The agents groom six feet of shoulder on the road between Mexico and the U.S. If any person steps into that dusty space the agents see the footsteps and follow with their all terrain vehicles. They know the most used routes and lay in wait at night and hit them with a bright spot light. The Border Patrol is very efficient.

While living in Yuma, my companion and I crossed into Mexico from San Luis. Let me describe those days. A huge parking lot awaits you on the U.S. side of the border. You pay dollars to park in a U.S. parking lot, not pesos. There are over 600 parking places. (The lot is not always completely full.)

We chose not to drive in but those who have business with Mexico have the required insurance and paperwork also wait in lines everyday to pass through the checkpoint back into the U.S

What we liked about Mexico was the good food; souvenirs, dental work, cheap prescriptions and other beneficial services, while the Mexicans would walk into the United States for jobs, Walmart, gifts, groceries and goods they couldn’t get in Mexico. Some have family on both sides of the border because their ancestors lived in the area before the border lines were drawn. And, they worried that some day, they may not be able to visit relatives if the crossing became strict.

At the end of a day in San Luis we would be stuck in long lines of Americanos headed back to the states. And, on the opposite side of the road, hundreds of Mexicans returning from the states. It would take about 3 hours to walk the line, go through the checkpoint, show your passport and get back to the parking lot.

Segue to today. My companion visited Mexico from San Luis last week and he saw no lines of people. He walked in, got his teeth cleaned and saw about 10 others returning. No long lines. No business. Closed shops everywhere on both sides of the border.

Here is how I remember Big Bend National Park in Texas. Boats would cross the Rio Grande from Mexico to the park and take orders for meals. Or, they would ferry you across to eat and shop and take you back. It is no longer allowed.

In Brownsville, the drug cartel houses sit conspicuously across from grapefruit orchards and cornfields on the U.S. side. Locals know that the blackmarket for drugs will always be there. Now, that would be an improvement if we negotiated with Mexico to rid the border of drug houses instead of thinking a wall would prevent it from happening.

Building a solid wall would be a ridiculous expense. Hanson never once mentioned the environmental consequences of a wall. Animals know no borders. On one trip we crossed into Mexico seven different crossings in seven days. It is ridiculous to assume all Mexicans want to come to the U.S.

I would also like to remind your readers that when Alabama passed a law that all Mexican workers would be screened and no illegals would be allowed to work in Alabama. Mexicans left the state in droves.

Alabama crops rotted in the fields because they couldn’t find anyone who would perform back breaking labor in the fields for low wages. Minimum wage in Alabama is among the lowest. A wall should not be built.

Mary Matzek lives in Murphys.