By TODD MILLER Published: August 17, 2013 169 Comments
THREE generations of Loews have worked the family’s 63 acres in Amado, Ariz. In the last 20 years, the Loew family harvested thousands of pounds of onions, garlic and pumpkins without incident. So Stewart Loew, 44, who was born and raised on the farm, was surprised when he went to irrigate his fields one night and found himself surrounded by federal agents.
Pointing to the fires about 200 feet away that Mr. Loew lit to keep warm while he irrigated his fields, one of the agents slogged out of the ankle deep water in the irrigation ditch and asked Mr. Loew what he was doing.
“I’m irrigating, dude,” said Mr. Loew, who was in his pajamas. “What are you doing?”
“Don’t ‘dude’ me, I’m a federal officer,” the Border Patrol agent said, and demanded Mr. Loew’s identification.
Since Mr. Loew did not carry his wallet in his pajama pocket, the agents followed him into his house; a local police officer, who knew the Loew family, had already arrived, vouched for Mr. Loew’s identity and assured the federal agents that Mr. Loew posed no threat to the homeland or national security, and the agents left without comment or apology.
This kind of brush with law enforcement would have been unthinkable to previous generations of farmers here. But these run-ins have become increasingly common in the rugged, hilly desert stretch along the southern borderlands where, in the post-9/11 world, everyone — even farmers in pajamas — is a potential threat. Read more
Politicians trying to explain away all of America’s ills have repeatedly turned their attention towards the southern border. The ebb and flow of migrants across the border, which has been occurring since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase established it at its present location, has been recast as an invasion. Read more
The U.S. Office of the Inspector General will be conducting an investigation that will look into cases of brutality or use of excessive force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. The OIG’s announcement comes at a time of increasingly deadly and disproportionate use-of-force, a problem that is exacerbated by a leadership vacuum at the top of CBP. Read more