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Why does he spend so much time returning strays? So his counterparts in Mexico will return the favor because some of his cattle amble across the border through the same holes. "The whole reason that I started doing this for the Mexican ranchers was to show 'em, 'Yeah, I'm honest. I'm going to give you yours back, so you give me mine.' And it's worked. But the whole story is that I've spent money on long-distance and talked to everybody from the Boundary Commission to USDA to border patrol to customs and everybody else, and I said, 'You need to do something with your international fence.'" He's still waiting.
While the Department of Homeland Security seemingly lacks the money to secure the border, it does have money to spend in quixotic ways. In a $13 million experimental program started in July, the border patrol will not just drop illegal Mexican aliens at the border but actually fly them, at taxpayer expense, into the heart of Mexico. The theory is that it will discourage them from making the trek north again. But as one illegal, a Dallas construction worker who was among the 138 aboard the first flight, told a Los Angeles Times reporter, "I will be going back in 15 days. I need to work. The jobs in Mexico don't pay anything."
The plight of Jim Dickson, a hospital administrator in Bisbee, is summed up with one image. It's an ambulance that pulls into tiny Copper Queen Community Hospital and discharges illegal aliens injured in an auto accident. The border-patrol officers--on orders from Washington--have refused to take them onto the hospital property after taking them into custody. Instead, the officers have called an ambulance for the injured. If the officers were to arrive at the hospital to make their drop-off, then the border patrol (make that the U.S. government) would be responsible for paying the medical bill. And that's something the Federal Government (make that Congress) will not do. Instead, the government stiffs Dickson, 56, the genial CEO of the Copper Queen, a hospital that dates back to the turn of the previous century, when Bisbee was the largest town between San Diego and St. Louis, Mo.
Dickson and his community hospital symbolize much of what has gone wrong with the immigration policies of the U.S. and Mexico--"the irresponsibility," as Dickson puts it politely, of both governments. He figures he has another three years, maybe a little longer, before he might be forced to shut down the hospital. "We used to have 250 emergency-room visits a month. Now it's 500," says Dickson. They range from a lone man or woman rescued in the desert, suffering from dehydration or a heart attack, to multiple victims injured when vans jammed with 20 or more illegals crash during high-speed chases. Along the way the hospital is seeing more and more tuberculosis, AIDS and hepatitis. "We don't have to do disaster drills like other hospitals," Dickson says. "We have enough real disasters every year."