Tag Archives: the wall

The Chiltons’ Wall

While in Arizona the majority of people we interviewed were against the wall. But in an effort to not seem biased, we also interviewed one couple that considers themselves staunchly pro-wall.

The Chilton’s own about 50,000 acres of land on the border. They are a friendly, older couple that has owned their land for about 30 years. According to them, in that time they’ve seen the people crossing their land go from migrant workers to drug smugglers. Entering their house it’s easy to see fear that the cartel’s presence has instilled in them. Guns and other weapons are easily accessible from almost any point in the expansive house.

At a wildlife preserve a few miles from Sasabe, Az., about 45 minutes from Arivaca and the Chilton's ranch. The terrain along the border is harsh and dry for anyone attempting to cross into the U.S.
At a wildlife preserve a few miles from Sasabe, Az., about 45 minutes from Arivaca and the Chilton’s ranch. The terrain along the border is harsh and dry for anyone attempting to cross into the U.S.

As we set up the interview, Jim Chilton shows us some of the footage he’s filmed of people crossing. Each person is carrying a large backpack, which he contends holds drugs. Some are also wearing carpet shoes, which are essentially pieces of carpet sewn together to go over a person’s shoes and thus prevent a visible trail. He has a large collection of these shoes on his front porch that he has found over the years on his property.

During the interview Sue Chilton discusses how securing the border is the only logical option for ranchers like her and her husband, whose land is separated from Mexico by a barbed wire fence. She talks about the necessity of humane migration and the need for a border patrol that actually patrols the border. She elucidates the viable fear of the cartel watching their every move, which is proven by the cameras they install on known trails, being turned upside down by masked men on occasion. Over the course of her interview she’s made a some interesting and fair points in her argument. To make it absolutely clear: I will never support either the proposed wall or the wall currently in existence. However, I sympathize with the fear of finding drugs on your land and the cartel’s constant presence.

When I was originally told we would be interviewing ranchers who were pro-wall I decided that I probably would not like them on principal. But after meeting them, attending mass with them, and hearing their side of the story I find myself unable to say that they are unlikable. They’ve built water fountains off of their watering stations for people passing through their land and they carry water with them at all times should they see anyone who might need it. They have seen a different side of this issue and while I disagree with their solution to it; I recognize that they are people trying their hardest to do what is best for themselves and what is right in the eyes of God.


Shrine in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo Cred: Nicole)
Shrine in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo Cred: Nicole)


I grew up in a conservative, small town in Wisconsin. I was raised to believe that immigration was wrong and that the “illegals” were stealing our jobs. I accepted that because I wasn’t exposed to the reality. Perhaps that is why I am understanding of those who are still against migration. The north is like a bubble, safe from the truth of the ugly parts of the south. However, it is a personal responsibility, no matter where one lives, to be educated and exposed.

When I entered college, I began to think for myself and discover what makes me mad. For me, anger is the strongest motivator. I am so angry here. I am angry that for every person found dead in the desert, there are ten more bodies. I am angry that men have come back to the comedor with bloody, torn up faces because BC pushed them into barbed wire. I am angry that the cartel keeps constant watch over the people and migrants of Nogales. I am angry that our country is just now processing paperwork from 20 years ago. I am angry that the reason some migrants carry drugs is because of the Americans who demand them. Mostly, I am angry that these people are classified as criminals and rapists when a large majority of them are just trying to survive.

As I said, anger motivates me. I’m the type of person who needs to brainstorm solutions whenever I hear a problem. I think that stems from my dad’s catchphrase, “Ok. So what are you going to do about it?” With him, I could never just complain or vent, I had to take action to solve my own problems. Listening to the stories of the people here, from both sides of the issue, has confirmed my desire to attend law school so that I can start a solution of my own.

So many of the people we have interviewed here have talked about young people and how they give them hope. A lawyer we spoke with called us “dreamers”. Those same people have also said that the dreamers fade out and the next round comes in and tries to change the world. I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to learn until I am no longer ignorant. I want to think until a problem is solved. I want to dream until I am no longer angry.


More to come,