What Gets Left Behind
May 7, 2008 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Federal and state government officials and border activists say the garbage dumped in the Sonoran Desert by illegal immigrants and their smugglers is staggering. The cleanup is costing taxpayers millions. The Southern Arizona Project(pdf) is a multi-year program setup by the Bureau of Land Management to mitigate the impacts to the ecology by illegal immigration and smuggling. In 2006 alone, more than 1.18 million pounds of trash was collected along the southern Arizona border.
posted by netbros (22 comments total)
Sounds like they'll fit in just fine.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:24 PM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Carbon emissions resulting from the consumption of Mexican food are also a concern.
posted by Kabanos at 1:25 PM on May 7, 2008

Finally! A reason to hate illegal immigrants that's consistent with my urban-liberal lifestyle.
posted by saladin at 1:27 PM on May 7, 2008 [10 favorites]

Sounds like the Minutemen have also been having a go at picking up trash. I swear, what they won't do for a better America . . .
posted by resurrexit at 1:29 PM on May 7, 2008

The report is titled "SOUTHERN ARIZONA PROJECT TO MITIGATE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGES RESULTING FROM ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION." However, after briefly skimming the report, it seems to me that it documents the removal of a colossal amount of garbage (including dozens of abandoned cars, trucks, and bicycles) from a number of areas, but does not provide concrete evidence that this garbage was dumped exclusively, or even primarily, by illegal immigrants. Based on what I've seen in other parts of the country, plenty of native-borne Americans dump their trash and abandon their vehicles in out-of-the-way places. Is there some other source that backs up their claim that this is the result of illegal immigration?
posted by googly at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

Googly, the "Hecho en Mexico" tags on the clothing?

On...no, wait...
posted by Seamus at 1:47 PM on May 7, 2008

Surely the sensible solution here is to have well-marked areas containing large trash cans along the border. Large trash cans packed with nails that explode when you put anything in them.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:48 PM on May 7, 2008

Googly, I agree, all those backpacks and water bottles are probably from all the Americans trying to sneak into Mexico and Central America.

posted by resurrexit at 1:50 PM on May 7, 2008

From the pdf: "Urban fringe trash occurs in overlapping areas and sometimes on the same sites. Urban fringe trash results from residents, visitors and others who illegally deposit litter, mattresses, and other items in the desert."

However, from the link provided by resurrexit above: "The first thing you notice if you were to drive across some of this land is you see water bottles, lots of water bottles," McFarlin said. "Where people stop to wait to be picked up — we call them 'layup' spots — then you will see more of the clothing, medicine bottles, papers, everything.

"We recently cleaned up one location with almost 4,000 backpacks left behind," she said.
posted by netbros at 1:52 PM on May 7, 2008

I wonder if they will be able to find a source of cheap labor to clean it all up.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:01 PM on May 7, 2008 [7 favorites]

I'm just gonna get a big bumper sticker that says "It wouldn't be such a mess if it were legal."

Seems to cover half my political opinions these days anyway.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:32 PM on May 7, 2008 [4 favorites]

This is a link to a PDF from 2006? Didn't we have a better post about this topic with better pictures?
posted by mattbucher at 2:37 PM on May 7, 2008

I wish they'd just focus on taking my job.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:24 PM on May 7, 2008

Dismantle and disperse Phoenix...that would remove a lot of trash from the desert.
posted by lathrop at 5:29 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

"'We recently cleaned up one location with almost 4,000 backpacks left behind,' she said."

Why are these people abandoning this equipment?
posted by Mitheral at 5:55 PM on May 7, 2008

The cleanup is costing taxpayers millions.

No it isn't; the government will pay for it all.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:47 PM on May 7, 2008

Why are these people abandoning this equipment?

The coyotes (human smugglers) force them to leave everything behind once they get across the border. The articles linked above talk about family heirlooms, photographs ... items the immigrants would certainly not abandon by choice.

There are many, many horror stories of the coyotes packing hundreds of immigrants in the back of tractor-trailer trucks in the desert heat with no food or water or restroom breaks. Thousands die in the desert every year.

More and more reports all the time out of Tucson and Phoenix about the coyotes keeping the immigrants locked up even when they get to their destination. They become, in effect, human cattle.

Unfortunately when they finally escape or are released, they blame the local governments (and the American people in general) for their woes. They simply don't realize or understand that it is the men they paid their life savings to that are keeping them prisoner for extortive purposes.
posted by netbros at 7:55 PM on May 7, 2008

Thousands die in the desert every year.

Not to dismiss the problem, but it's more like hundreds, isn't it?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:12 PM on May 8, 2008

My uncle works with a group that purposefully leaves stuff in the desert of the border crossers. Mainly water, food and hygene items. Of course the Minutemen use these survival packets for target practice when they come upon them. True American heroism and Christian values(tm) there, really.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:17 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

for, leaves stuff for the border crossers.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:17 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

pollomacho, make sure to tell your uncle that i said he's a true hero.

what's the name of the organization? i'll gladly throw a donation (and write-up) their way :)
posted by liza at 5:46 PM on May 8, 2008

I'll ask him if they actually have an organization, but as far as I know he does it with a local church group out of Phoenix.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:17 AM on May 9, 2008

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