On October 2nd, somewhere in the brush between the once-bustling mining community of Bisbee, AZ and the Mexican border, a tripped sensor meant to detect illegal immigrants and smugglers led to the convergence of two groups of US Border Patrol agents who opened fire on one another, resulting in the death of one and wounding of another, as described in this Arizona Daily Star article. In it are given the current explanations for how such a tragedy could occur.
This "friendly fire" incident brings up some questions. Since nobody but Border Patrol personnel were involved, it must mean that at least one of these agents felt that he had cause to open fire on another. What would be the reason for this? If a family of Mexicans were illegally making their way through the desert to enter the US and had tripped the sensing device, would they have been fired upon? Is anyone wandering around in the Gadsden Purchase subject to the death penalty? What's the procedure for intercepting and questioning suspects in this area?
Residents of southern Cochise County have long been exasperated by the continuous northward migration of undocumented immigrants across their property. But their personal tribulations have been overshadowed by US government policies determined by the political activity of unaffected ideologues thousands of miles away. While the construction of a probably ineffective border fence has been authorized but never completed and dozens of green and white Border Patrol SUVs manned by armed federal agents careen around the rattlesnake-infested desert, cities further north have declared themselves sanctuaries for those without a visa or passport. This mixed signal tells potential illegals that once they've made it across the dangerous border area, the opportunity for economic advancement isn't any more perilous than that of a legal resident. The other portion of the trans-border traffic, the drug smuggling industry, is willing to assume the dangers of confrontation with the Border Patrol because of the profits guaranteed by the ill-conceived "war on drugs" and because they've been able to enlist Border Patrol agents into their effort. This conflict, like the "war on poverty" and other actions against some perceived domestic problem, will never be won. The bureaucracies that make up the armies in these wars will never de-mobilize.