Open any newspaper, listen to any talk show, or watch any television show on immigration, and you’ll hear about immigrants crossing the border from Mexico to enter the United States.
The American public rarely, if ever, hears about U.S. citizens crossing the border to live in Mexico. However, our immigration live hangout special guest today provides that perspective for you.
Meet Bob Drews, one of the most prolific immigration commentators on the internet.
Bob regularly posts articles, news stories, and reports, adding his unabashed opinions on immigration affairs in Unjust Legal Immigration Laws And The Rights Of All People, a grassroots group of over 8,000 active followers on Facebook.
In this chat, you will learn why Bob is not happy with either the U.S. media or the U.S. government on issues near and dear to his heart.
Here are the main points and take-aways from the hangout with Bob Drews and Carlos Batara, broadcasting from his Hemet Immigration law office in Riverside County.
Bob Drews’ Road To Immigration Reform Advocacy
Born in Bernie, Missouri, Bob was raised in an area where immigration issues were not often discussed. Even after graduation from Bernie High School and studying at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois, Bob had little inkling that his life journey would lead to immigration activism.
He became involved with the immigrant rights movement in 2005. In his work as a truck driver, Bob often drove in and out of Mexico. During one of his stays abroad, he met a woman whom he eventually courted and began to live with her during his increasingly long journeys to Mexico.
They talked about getting married. Bob wanted her to be able to come to the United States with him. Since his health insurance program only provided benefits in the U.S., Bob decided that he would immigrate her. However, as with many mixed status couples, they were unable to “get the paperwork right.”
As a result, they eventually settled for a residence in Saltillo, Mexico, less than five miles from the U.S. – Mexico border. This allows him access to his medical providers on the U.S. side. Unfortunately, Bob notes, when he travels to the U.S., she is not allowed to join him.
Saltillo, Mexico is the capital and largest city of the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila. Saltillo is located about 400 kilometers south of Texas and and 90 kilometers west of Monterrey, Nuevo León.
How does Drews family in US feel about his decision to live in Mexico? They don’t like him living there. In Bob’s view, they have bought too deeply into the propaganda of U.S. newspapers.
Based on his personal experiences, Bob eventually began to take a more critical look at U.S. policies toward Mexican citizens.
As he watched how the American government treated Mexican citizens, he decided that he had to help the fight to correct such misguided actions, attitudes, and policies.
A False Image Of U.S. And Mexican Border Towns
In Bob’s perspective, the American media presents a false image of the Southwest border issues.
Bob still goes into and out of the United States at least once pr month. He prefers to shop in the U.S. because, surprisingly, many groceries and household items are cheaper on the American side – even though there are no taxes such products in Mexico.
A fair amount of Americans live in his home town. Most are ex-military personnel. This aspect of border towns in Mexico is not reported in the U.S. press.
The American media, Bob also stresses, portrays a wrong image of crime and violence in Mexican and U.S. border cities. He emphasizes that, in fact, studies confirm that border communities are the safest cities on both sides of the border.
Despite its bad reputation, Bob states that El Paso, Texas is one of the safest cities in the United States.
Bob says he is a living example of this safety. He has now lived in Mexico for ten years and he has not had any problems with violence or crime.
The Misguided Policy Of Militarizing U.S. Borders
According to Bob, most Mexican citizens still look up to the United States as a big brother. They’re good as gold in terms of their respect for what American has accomplished. They would like to imitate the U.S.
The problems at the border with drugs and violence, which is often the subject of U.S. news stories, is a scare tactic. Bob never hears about these issues where he lives.
He thinks these problems are blown out of proportion to scare U.S. citizens. The politicians compound the wrong perceptions because they want to use it to win votes and get reelected.
Sure, Bob admits, there are drugs in border towns. But he adds there is similar crime all over the world. Such problems in Mexican border towns are no more than in U.S. border towns, and border towns have less of these types of issues than other inland cities.
This is not a reason to militarize the border.
He does not understand how the American public tolerates the spending of building walls and militarizing the border when such tactics have been proven to be ineffective. After all, he asks, don’t U.S. citizens realize it is their tax dollars being spent?
How The Border Patrol Heightens Hostilities Toward Immigrants
Bob believes the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is committing illegal atrocities in America’s name. They suffer no recourse for their actions because no one is really overseeing their activities.
In Bob’s words, this is wrong.
Innocent people have been killed by Border Patrol officers. In one incident, a lot of folks were out at the river with their families when a young boy swam across, touched the U.S. side, and promptly turned around to swim back to the Mexican side.
U.S. officers jumped on an airboat to chase him. When they neared him, they started driving the boat in a circle around him, creating a wave to drown him. Mexican residents started yelling at the CBP agents to stop. Instead, they opened fire at the crowd, and shot a man who was holding a baby in his chest. He died.
When they drove off, they were laughing.
It is wrong to shoot people indiscriminately, Bob forcefully argues.
He states this is the same attitude they often take with him when he is driving across the border. However, since he is not intimidated by such behavior, they usually change their actions quickly.
Why does Bob think the Border Patrol exhibits such hostility? Because, he notes, they feel that they are above the law. Nobody is really looking over them.
Many brutal incidents involving out-of-control CBP agents take place. Few are officially investigated by the U.S. government or reported by the American press corps.
Sadly, Bob shares, many of the wayward Border Patrol officers are of Mexican origin. How and why they became so callous he doesn’t know.
Deporting Military Veterans
Bob was in the military. And in border towns, there are American military veterans. Some have likely been deported.
The deportation of immigrant veterans by the Obama administration is one of Bob’s pet peeves. Some served multiple tours of duty in places like Vietnam and Afghanistan.
He points to the Valenzuela brothers, both winners of awards for their bravery in combat. He served with one during the Vietnam War. He strongly opposes their deportation for minor offenses or related to medical problems stemming from their service.
They should be granted some special deportation defense relief or waivers to give them a chance to remain living in the country for which they were willing to sacrifice their lives.
Central American Refugee Children At The U.S. Border
Bob learned, long before any reports surfaced, that the U.S. government was deporting Central American children to Mexico, even though they were not Mexican residents.
The border agents would talk to the kids in Spanish. Then, they would write down that they were from Mexico, even when they knew this was untrue.
This made it easier to deport them. Mexican immigrants caught at the border can be promptly returned because Mexico is an adjacent country. Central American immigrants, on the other hand, have to be placed in a safe detention center on the U.S. side.
This is still an issue, Bob notes, which is vastly unreported by the U.S. media.
Closing Thoughts On Immigration Reform
Bob’s number one piece of advice, for immigrant advocates, is to register and vote. Many individuals in Congress need to be replaced.
In particular, Bob does not care for Ted Cruz, a Cuban born in Canada who dislikes immigrants. In Bob’s view, politicians like Cruz use immigration issues as a stepping stone.
His second piece of advice is to counter the rumor that “These people, Mexican immigrants, are stealing U.S. jobs.”
When Bob was a young man, he worked in cotton fields. The employers could not find enough people to take the farm working jobs.
Mexican immigrants are not stealing jobs. They take jobs that American laborers do not want to accept. Without immigrant farm hands, all farms would be in Mexico and the U.S. would have to import grocery items.
Third, Bob would relax the drive for more security measures on the border. He would save the billions of dollars which is spent on fences, drones, and the Border Patrol, and spend it on other public and social needs of the American public.
Bob would eliminate the way the United States – Mexico border is seen as a war zone by immigration authorities. In fact, that is the most frequently discussed topic among the members of his Facebook organization, Unjust Legal Immigration Laws And The Rights Of All People
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