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Foley’s War: Occupying the U.S.-Mexico Border

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Wind whips through the dry grass at the base of the U.S.-Mexico border fence where Tim Foley stands smoking a cigarette and surveying vast wilderness of the Altar Valley. Here, just west of the Sasabe border crossing, the 20-foot tall steel fencing abruptly gives way to straggling barbed wire as the physical border, so easily drawn on a map, cuts across rugged terrain into the Baboquivari Mountains and the Tohono O’odham reservation. Foley brings people to this spot to demonstrate what he considers a lack of border security. Places like this are wide open. Anyone can pass through. Not that the fence is stopping anybody anyway, he says. The founding member of the Arizona Border Recon, Foley, with his loyal pitbull Rocco, leads a group of well-armed volunteers who patrol the desert for people and drugs crossing illegally from...

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Border road trip reveals desire for change

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One day, three cities, five people. The trip from Douglas to Naco to Nogales is a classic look into the American Southwest. The sun is hot, there is a sea of yellow grass, and each downtown vaguely emanates the Wild West. Along the endless stretches of highway, however, modernity breaks up the timelessness. U.S. Border Patrol cars — fleets of white SUVs, its purpose stated boldly in green, police lights fixed to the roof — race around the charcoal concrete, searching for interlopers. Driving through Arizona’s border towns, the picture can be deceptively simple. On a Sunday, there are people pouring out of churches, milling about in city green spaces, and squeezing in some work. Yet this lazy Sunday belies the hotbed of activity that these towns are fused with. Life in these cities is undeniably affected by its...

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Latin food flavors have multiple connections

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  South American and Latin American flavors are finding their way into Mexican cuisine. An Agricultural Marketing Resource Center study shows Mexicans are now the largest minority group living in the U.S., and within the restaurant industry Mexican food consumption is increasing faster than any other segment. Chicken and cheese enchiladas. Fajitas. Bean and cheese burritos. Little taquitos with salsa. They are all ideal Mexican meals in the United States. But Peruvian, Venezuelan, Brazilian and other Latin American cuisines are leavening influence on Mexican flavors. Inca’s Peruvian Cuisine, 6878 E. Sunrise Drive in Tucson, contributes to the emerging Latin taste.. Restaurant Owner Luis Campos sees that trend. “Mexicans and Americans love food that they are familiar with and is similar to their own,” Campos said. “An example would be Ceviche (a seafood dish). Ceviche is from Mexico, yet as a Peruvian...

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Miracle Valley: A land sullied by history

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MIRACLE VALLEY — Once home to a Bible college, a cult, a bombing, a shooting and a police brawl, Miracle Valley can be a transformative place. The small place with a complicated history where the border and the San Pedro River meet is known mostly for its revivalists and broken promises. Its stories have been cataloged extensively in two books by William R. Daniel, that tell of the 300-member church that came from Chicago in 1978, led by Pastor Frances Thomas, and in four years took run of the place over police, making national news. Today, the flat strip of Highway 92 between Sierra Vista and Bisbee, stretched between two mountains, lies parallel to the border three miles south and perpendicular to the San Pedro. West of the river, the highway intersects a street called “Healing Way.” A Bible...

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How state, national parks near border became safe for visitors again

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Caution: “Smuggling and illegal immigration may be encountered in this area.” Visitors to state and national parks, monuments and memorials in Southern Arizona have undoubtedly seen these signs posted along popular hiking trails. The sites near the Mexico border are great spots to find hiking, bird watching and camping, but also provide the perfect place for undocumented immigrants and drug smugglers to cross into the U.S. However, visitors are unlikely to see any illegal border activity. One reason: Border Patrol now has an operating base inside the Coronado National Memorial in Sierra Vista, which has led to more officers being assigned to the park to help reduce illegal border activity. “Visitors don’t often see it because (immigrants) try to avoid established trails and they usually travel by night,” said Christopher Bentley, park ranger at the Coronado National Memorial near Sierra Vista, which is only...

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‘Gunslinger’ wants to launch a Tombstone podcast

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Lincoln Leavere saunters through a saloon off Allen Street and takes a seat outside. The Tombstone “gunslinger” leans in to explain his plan: He wants to bring the Wild West into the age of podcasts. Leavere, an actor at Old Tombstone Western Town, along with a few other partners, hopes to launch Tombstone Radio later this spring as a podcast. The radio station will broadcast stories about the West and music to fit the setting in Tombstone, as well as provide updates on the area’s current events. “It’s a little bit of history, a little bit of rock n’ roll,” Leavere says. “It’s mostly about having fun in the West.” So, in the town that thrives on living in the late 19th century, the plan is for its podcast to be able to reach anyone around the world through smartphones, tablets or a connection to...

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Border Strike Force statistics not adding up

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Department of Public Safety reports released through the Arizona public records law fail to back up Gov. Doug Ducey’s claims that his Border Strike Force had the impact detailed in his State of the State address. Ducey said the strike force made “more than 300 arrests and seized 4,400 pound of marijuana, 194 pounds of meth and 21 pounds of heroin” from operations since September until his speech in January. He offered this data to support his legislative request for $31 million to expand DPS’s border operations. Arizona Sonora News Service filed requests with DPS seeking records of the strike force’s operations. The public records were released two months later and exposed inconsistencies in the governor’s numbers. The data — more than 800 pages — revealed 51 drug-related arrests and seizure of 1,685 pounds of marijuana from operations dating back to September...

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Public perception of police may precipitate increased violence

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 PERCENTAGE OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS ON OFFICERS IN MARICOPA COUNTY Police officers in Maricopa County claim they are assaulted at a higher rate than elsewhere in Arizona, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s alleged abuses of power may be to blame. According to data pulled from the Crime in Arizona Report for 2014 (the most recent report published), Maricopa County, which has 60 percent of the state’s population, accounted for 79 percent of all officers assaulted in Arizona the previous year, and that number keeps going up. The percent distribution of aggravated assaults on police officers attributed to Maricopa County began rising in 2005 and peaked in  2014.   As shown below, the numbers of assaults on officers in the county has steadily increased at a similar rate. Since both the numbers of assaults and the percent distribution to Maricopa Co. are both rising...

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Justice delayed: Immigration courts drown in backlogged cases

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U.S. immigration courts nationwide are struggling under severe backlogs, despite the addition of nine immigration judges announced in February. Immigration spending has not kept pace with money spent on border enforcement, leaving courts with steadily increasing caseloads and wait times. These backlogs mean hundreds of thousands of people are in limbo for an average of two years, and the courts have inadequate resources to tackle the problem. “I think over the past 10 years, we just saw this increase, exponentially every year. Cases on top of cases,” said Gerald Burns, an immigration lawyer in Chandler and the former chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Arizona chapter. “Nationwide, the backlog is just out of control.” Among slow courts, Phoenix at the bottom U.S. immigration courts have more than 470,000 backlogged cases and an average wait time of nearly 670...

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How Fort Lowell Sowed the Seed of a City

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  Camp Lowell’s solider enjoyed themselves in the night life of downtown Tucson in 1866. But seven years of wine and women led military officials to call for a halt to this. In 1873, Camp Lowell moved seven miles to the northeast, where the Fort Lowell Military Reservation grew to become the central site for military operations in Southern Arizona. A 20-acre plot of land dotted with a number of decrepit ruins is what remains of the once glorious 80 square-mile base that was responsible for the growth and development of Southern Arizona. “A lot of people haven’t heard of this place, but it really is a place to remember and save,” said Caren Groesbeck, curator of the Fort Lowell Museum, off North Craycroft Road, between East Fort Lowell Road and East Glenn Street. Modern Tucson as it is known today grew as...

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