Sanctuary movement revives

  • FRIEND OF IMMIGRANTS: Alexis Claire outside her shop

    Nicholas DeVore photo
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Cochise County is nothing if not a place of extremes. The county's small towns are bastions of the black-helicopter set, but the old copper-mining burg of Bisbee was taken over by artists, hippies and long-haired drug runners in the 1970s.

Today, even Bisbee is showing signs of the new prosperity: Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, a business incubator, lovely inns, an elegant restaurant or two.

Alexis Claire runs the travel agency, one of two businesses with signs in their windows saying, "We Will Not Cooperate With the INS." Tucson attorneys Jesus Romo and Isabel Garcia defended Claire in a Sanctuary trial ten years ago, after she was accused of smuggling political refugees into the country. Claire says the old underground railroad of the Sanctuary movement, which helped Central American refugees escape their repressive governments, is being reactivated as the pressure increases on the Arizona border.

"I think a lot of people are just starting to help migrants on their own," says Claire. "It's both organized and unorganized. I think we might look over our shoulders and worry a little. But we know what we're doing is right."

Claire says the Border Patrol has created a chaotic situation in Cochise County, then used the chaos to justify a huge buildup of personnel and equipment, in effect militarizing the border.

Certainly, the number of Border Patrol officers has increased dramatically. In 1996, with the strong backing of Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Congress required that the Border Patrol add 1,000 officers annually for five years, approximately doubling the force nationwide to almost 9,000. To truly control the border, one officer said, the Border Patrol would have to double their forces yet again.

The authorities aren't cracking down on U.S. citizens who break the law by helping the travelers. Not yet. But Claire doesn't seem intimidated.

"I went to Ellis Island this summer and felt all the ghosts," says Claire, who grew up in Queens, N.Y. "Giving people a chance to better themselves is what this country is all about. I don't discriminate when I help people."

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Susan Zakin

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Come work alongside everyday Montanans to project our clean air, water, and build thriving communities! Competitive salary, health insurance, pension, generous vacation time and sabbatical....
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
    Honor the Earth is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on identity. Indigenous people, people of color, Two-Spirit or LGBTQA+ people,...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Colorado Trout Unlimited seeks an individual with successful development experience, strong interpersonal skills, and a deep commitment to coldwater conservation to serve as the organization's...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Now hiring a full-time, remote Program Director for the Society for Wilderness Stewardship! Come help us promote excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...