On April 16, the U.S. Senate’s so-called “Gang of 8” released their 844-page plan for comprehensive immigration reform entitled the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. The border policing aspect of the bill (among many other things) envisions $3 billion for more surveillance systems, including unmanned aerial drones, $1.5 billion for more barriers on the boundary, and the addition of 3,500 more Customs and Border Protection agents (CBP includes the U.S. Border Patrol). This would be on top of the $18 billion (figure from 2012) that the U.S. government already spends on border and immigration enforcement per year, an expense that is more than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined.
Arizona has been a hot-spot and laboratory for immigration enforcement for quite a while and would be significantly impacted by this proposed upsurge in border policing. This photo essay offers a glimpse into how this intensley border-controlled universe already looks in the Arizona borderlands, via two distinct perspectives. One is the emerging border control industrial cluster, and I photographed many of these companies displaying their wares at the 7th Annual Border Security Expo that took place in Phoenix, Arizona on March 12 and 13. Intermixed is another set of photos from a binational vigil that happened on the Mexico-U.S. border on April 10. It was the six-month anniversary of the killing of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, the 16-year-old who the U.S. Border Patrol gunned down through the border wall on October 10 in Nogales, Sonora—a casualty of the inevitable violence of the border policing apparatus that the Gang of 8 says must increase in the name of comprehensive immigration reform.