Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Foreign Correspondent -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) America's borders. in a fierce battle to protect This is, literally, the front line is Mexico. and beyond this fence behind me, I'm Jill Colgan in Arizona, Hello and welcome to the program. This program is captioned live.

crossing into this country. as we see people who die and suffer we take joy in seeing It's not something that they take lightly. It is not something of sheer economic desperation. People migrate because for wages Americans won't take. Americans don't want prepared to do the jobs to find a better life in America, every bit as determined lies a human wave of migrants, But beyond these hills shut the border. what their government won't - The Minutemen say they'll do to our national security. and the greatest threat illegal immigration We have out-of-control we have anarchy on our border, that rules our border, We have the criminal element our borders are still wide open. Three years after September 11, into the United States. and disappear evade capture But hundreds of thousands swooping on fugitives like these. catches many of them, The US border patrol Hundreds die in the attempt. try to cross this border each year. illegal immigrants More than 1 million desolate terrain. passing through harsh, 3,000 kilometres long, The US-Mexico border is more than others call them American heroes. Some call them dangerous vigilantes, Arizona's Minutemen. In the thick of it all,

the only way to get attention we're all tired and we felt After 40 years of this onslaught, American Revolution. who fought the British during the century civilian militia from a fiercely patriotic 18th taking their name as a recruitment drive, Minutemen Project It was his idea to launch the turned political activist. journalist, turned tax accountant, a decorated Vietnam veteran turned Jim Gilchrist, The other is Californian Good, how's it going? Chuck, hi, it's Jim. the drug dealers and the terrorists. stopping the criminals and and our private property rights, and protecting our neighbours, No, this is about national security, in some way? This is about a racist agenda Civil Homeland Defence. founding his group, to shut the border, That's when he began this crusade terrorist attacks of September 11. who came here after the owner of a local paper in Tombstone, Chris Simcox, brainchild of two men. The Minutemen project is the to be reckoned with. and they know we're a force right now, They're all paying attention retired military veterans. retired law enforcement officers, their entire lives, responsible people are senior citizens, Most who responded you point out which way they went. when border patrol gets there you let 'em go, You don't say anything to 'em, there's no comment. And if they get up and go by you, you just call the border patrol. you don't give 'em anything at all, you don't give 'em water, You don't speak to 'em, Just watch, that is your whole job. a most unlikely band of gunslingers. by the OK Corral, they're making their own stand Amid echoes of the wild west, headquarters for the Minutemen. Tombstone, Arizona - an apt

Americans have long needed. and himself as the leader this as a mission Chris Simcox describes identification, everything. Clothing and back packs, acres and acres of trash. I mean, literally destroy the environment. trash our countryside, Illegal aliens effort to secure the border. for what was, at least, a symbolic among Americans polls showed strong support labelled them vigilantes, Even as President George W. Bush tomorrow he's gonna work your shift. He's gonna pull a double, confounded their critics. But the Minutemen I won't have to shoot them. Well that's good, cards but they're OK. These two young men do not have could escalate into a confrontation. between the Minutemen and opponents There's concern any encounter in order to stop it. You have to confront racism protesters gathered outside. citizen border patrols, As the Minutemen organise But not all of it was good. project is intended to work. it's exactly how the Minutemen and took the five men away, The border patrol arrived, and began to shoot this video. The called the border patrol miles from the border. hiding under a cement culvert three five illegal aliens On day two, these volunteers found there were locals there too. And yes, as many as 19 different States. Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, People from California, Oregon, national attention. and soon got their began stopping illegal crossings The Minutemen ply their trade across the border. people smugglers who used by so-called "coyotes" - an area rife with trails in the San Pedro Valley, on a 37 kilometre stretch of border taking up watch a modern-day posse on deckchairs, They came from everywhere, call to arms in April. It started as a month-long and drawing national attention. by coming down here enforce the border laws ourselves was to actually

to make his message palatable to middle America - a claim he strongly denies. They're trying to behave in front of the cameras but if you dig a little deeper, there is vast amounts of ignorance and a lot of racism racist, anti-immigration views he also hid his more extreme, Opponents say began, he polished up his image. Soon after the Minutemen project until I go home at night. in the morning from the time I walk out my door a bullet-proof vest and I personally have to wear And you personally? is no connection between us. We're scared of vigilantes literally attacking people at gunpoint, which they have. They want a stop to all immigration and they don't know that they're going to cut off their nose to spite their face because they too depend on the undocumented labour force. But the Minutemen are not so readily pigeonholed. I know there's been a lot of very left-wing press that we're all a bunch of redneck gun-toting idiots who are gonna shoot people. That's not happening, so that there to protect their identity I have had their last names changed for the safety of his two children. and of his fears from both sides of the border he spoke of facing death threats newspaper, the Tumbleweed, From the humble office of his everywhere, unemployed. they're standing on street corners in this country There are plenty of workers from Mexico. any immigration into this country then I want a two year moratorium on military presence on our border, We want nothing short of a US His demands are clear. behind many of these individuals. Cross-border volleyball - human rights groups countered with their own month-long protest with events like this, aimed at making light of the border tension. Long-time immigration advocate Isabel Garcia claims the Minutemen are just the latest version of racist groups who've tried to militarise the border in the past.

and the fact is, it's so easy for anybody to walk across this border with anything that they can carry. This is an example of a trail the illegals will use. This is where an agent has not been slowed. Large groups have been caught in the middle of the desert, dozens at a time. Many are found dehydrated and lost, abandoned by their coyotes. You can't physically carry enough water to make it through the desert in a safe manner. and so coyotes will tell them the journey is only six to eight hours to get to a place where they are gonna get picked up or to their destination, when in reality it can be four or five or six days worth of walking. will cut for sign, of course, cutting for sign means the agent is looking for something out of the ordinary. The US border is under assault and the statistics are staggering. As far as arrests, Tucson sector agents arrested 491,771 people last year. This year thus far, we've arrested more than 17,000 illegal aliens with criminal histories, so we're on pace to pretty much double last year's numbers. But agent Charles Griffin says they don't need the Minutemen. Well, it's not a project that's desired. These people are untrained civilians trying to perform law enforcement functions, potentially putting themselves in a situation that could be violent. Every day, the detention centres along this border fill with illegal aliens. Most are Mexican, but they come from all over Latin America. It's become a high-tech game of cat and mouse, but for all the latest technology, the surge of immigrants it hasn't happened and it's not gonna happen. Retired aluminium industry executive Ed Whitbred says people are angry their government is spending billions of dollars on a war in Iraq but won't secure its own southern border. The main impetus is terrorism

They face violence at the hands of the smugglers. Some will be kidnapped and held hostage until their families send money or be killed. There's rapes, there's murders, there's physical assaults. Each year, around 300 people die, pushed by the heightened border security to try ever more desperate paths. In this night surveillance video released just days ago, four Mexican men tried a risky crossing over a dam in Texas. Border patrol agents were waiting on the other side, but as they reached for help, the men slipped, one by one falling to their deaths. So commonplace are the captures, we spot one on the side of the road in broad daylight. And what do they do when they catch them? Let them go. Within hours of being caught, they'll be processed and if there are no outstanding warrants, they'll be dropped off at the border like this, where many simply wait for another chance to cross. The sheer numbers make it impossible for the system to do anything more. The truth is there ARE drug runners and other criminals crossing this border. There MAY be terrorists too. But the vast majority are impoverished Mexicans looking for work, drawn by employers in the US only too willing to hire cheap labour. More than 10 million illegal immigrants live and work in the US today. And this is why they come. Mexican President Vicente Fox has failed to provide the economic miracle he promised his people. Poverty is widespread and the gap between rich and poor is a chasm. (Mexican music) This is Altar, a small town about 100 kilometres from the border with the United States. It has come to serve one main purpose: it's become a staging point for the tens of thousands of Mexicans and other Hispanics preparing to make the illegal border crossing into the US. The town square is full of men who've come from around the country to meet their coyotes, making a last phone call home before they go. Shops sell the goods they'll need: back packs, shoes, and the clothes to help them blend in on the other side. Vans openly line the street, advertising trips to the border and, as if on cue, they pull out in convoy. (Speaks Spanish) Father Rene Castaneda Castro is a Catholic priest who runs a migrant shelter in Altar. Outside, he has crosses marking the numbers of desert deaths in each US State and a wall memorialising the dead. (Speaks Spanish) The dark truth is, illegal migration works to the advantage of both countries. Without the cheap labour, construction, agriculture and service businesses in the US would collapse. For the Mexican Government, these people are its most lucrative export, sending back millions of dollars in earnings to their families and fueling a struggling economy. So your priority is not to police the border? No. And let me tell you that according to the Mexican constitution, the Mexican constitution guarantees the freedom of transit within the boundaries of Mexico, so it would be unconstitutional to try to detain them. But doesn't that make life difficult for your ally and neighbour, the US? Well, what can I tell you? There's this reality of migration all over the world, and Mexico and the United States do not escape from this fact of life. Tonight at the shelter, a young family is preparing to make their first crossing. Guatemalans Armando Carrillo Domingo is 23. His wife Veronica is 20. Their son Harold is 2. Despite the risks, they're determined to take their chances. (Speaks Spanish) The family went heavily into debt to pay their coyote - nearly $3,500 US. (Speaks Spanish) This is the face of a coyote. For 20 years, Sergio Icedo Medrano smuggled people through the desert to pay for a rampant drug habit. (Speaks Spanish) His habit eventually ruined him and he checked into a drug rehabilitation centre. The human rights group No More Deaths discovered him at the centre and recruited him to help migrants trying to cross. The group sets up camps near the border, taking food and water to those in the desert in a bid to stop the fatalities. (Speaks Spanish) Now, with a new-found belief in God and the skills he once used to exploit migrants, Sergio has become a not-for-profit coyote. Hola. And there in the desert, we find a group of young men waiting for their chance to bolt to freedom. (Speaks Spanish) Among them, one of the men we filmed being caught just days ago. As determined as the Minutemen are on the other side to stop them, there are Mexicans and Americans here just as determined to help the migrants make it. (Speaks Spanish) They have an ally in the highest of offices. President Bush, for one, knows the US needs the Mexican immigrants. We should not be content with laws that punish hard-working people who want only to provide for their families and deny businesses willing workers and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take. It would drastically thin down the number of illegal border crossings and let border patrol focus on criminals and would-be terrorists. But the President is facing strong opposition from hardliners in his own Republican Party. I think we all need to stand and say the pledge of allegiance. So intense is the growing anti-immigration sentiment in this country, Republicans are nervous as being seen as soft on illegal immigration. Getting an immigration overhaul through Congress may prove impossible, and in the meantime, nothing will change. This could not have been done without all of you. We did this together, we the people. The Minutemen succeeded beyond expectations. There were no incidents of violence and they've recruited 15,000 more volunteers for future projects, expanding the scheme beyond Arizona. But even if it were feasible to station them along the entire border, they could not stop the immigrants. Every week, the group Humane Borders has a vigil for the migrants found dead in the desert. Each cross bears one name. It shows that whatever the risks, they WILL come, as long as there's poverty in Mexico, jobs in the US and inaction by both governments. Our next story comes from further south in the Americas, Patagonia - a region that straddles Chile and Argentina, where Eric Campbell discovered the collapse of the local wool industry has led to a Yankee land grab. Summer in Patagonia. Fresh snow falls on the Andes mountains. A bitter Antarctic wind sweeps over the horizon. Glaciers crack and split. Patagonia has long occupied a mythical place in South American culture, akin to Australia's Outback or North America's Great Plains. It's a vast region of open skies and sprawling landscapes straddling the southern extremes of Argentina and Chile. Huge sheep and cattle stations once enriched Argentina and shaped its image as a nation. Men like Don Carlos Gelos, a 61-year-old shearer, could not imagine being anywhere else. (Speaks foreign language) But these days, he just performs his skills for tourists. The properties he worked on are broke. The industry he spent his life in has all but disappeared. APPLAUSE It's little more than a century since Europeans settled throughout Patagonia. White farmers from Britain, Germany and Argentina building sprawling sheep and cattle farms on the steppe and forests. But Patagonia is once again at a major turning point as the farms they built wither from overgrazing and economic malaise. It's a crisis that could change the very nature of a place some call the edge of the world. GUITAR PLAYS In less than a generation, much of the heartland of Argentina's wool industry has turned to wasteland. The giant province of Santa Cruz once had 1,400 working sheep stations called estancias. Today, more than 500 are bankrupt. Jorge Lemos was one of the few who saw it coming. He had worked the land for 30 years and watched in dismay as farmers began cashing in on high wool prices while forgetting what the land could support. In the 1990s, the wool price crashed and in 2001 Argentina's currency collapsed. Suddenly, the grand estancias could neither sell their sheep nor keep them. The land was finally exhausted. Within a few years, Santa Cruz's sheep herd of 7 million fell by 90%. The bigger, more picturesque estancias close to towns have managed to salvage something from tourism. They breed sheep and cattle just for show, and employ guides to give outsiders a feel of how life used to be. But only a few properties had the means or capacity to change. The ruined windswept estancias that couldn't switch to tourism have simply sold up - their land made almost worthless by economic collapse and years of overgrazing. But the buyers have not been fellow Argentines, few of whom could afford to leave the land idle for years to regenerate. Instead, wealthy foreigners have been buying up huge tracts of Patagonia. From American tycoons to European corporations, even a who's who of Hollywood celebrities. The biggest brand here now is the Italian clothing company Benetton, which snapped up 900,000 hectares of potentially prime wool-growing country. Other major buyers include the founder of CNN, Ted Turner, and the philanthropist and global trader George Soros. It's also proved attractive for a cigarette company that trades on the image of rugged, outdoor freedom. COUNTRY WESTERN MUSIC PLAYS It's been good news for some of the former landowners, but deeply troubling for many Patagonians. The concerns aren't just parochial, they're deeply rooted in Patagonia's blood-soaked history. The first land grab here was in the 19th century, when whites took the land of the indigenous people they called los Indios - the Indians. Tribes like the Mapuche found their hunting grounds cut off by white farmers and slowly lost their rights to their own land. Some fear history is being repeated. PAUSE FOR SUBTITLES The concerns have resonated in Buenos Aires, where the forces of globalisation have left many feeling powerless over their country's destiny. Marta Maffei is an Opposition Deputy in the Argentine Congress. The government dismisses fears that foreigners are taking over the land. Argentina's President, Nestor Kirchner, welcomes the new investment as a way of renewing a region crippled by economic strife. It's an issue that hounds the centre-left President every time he goes home. He's a former governor of Patagonia and his wife Christina is the senator for Santa Cruz. Today, they've come to her electorate to open a foreign-owned five-star hotel. CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS The hotel opening is a symbol of just how much the character of rural Patagonia is changing. El Calafate was once a sleepy farming village servicing nearby estancias. It's now a booming resort town, crowded with restaurants, coaches, tour companies and souvenir stores, all geared to the tourist dollar. El Calafate's fortune was to be near Patagonia's biggest natural attraction - the awe-inspiring Perito Moreno glacier. Its growing popularity is a direct result of Argentina's economic woes. The weak peso has made Patagonia a relatively cheap destination for anyone with hard currency. While Argentines welcome outsiders visiting their land, many object to the ease is seen as a sell-out. Even the harshest critics of the land sales can see a potential for renewal. This is Monte Leon, Argentina's first coastal national park, and home to, among other things, tens of thousands of penguins and sea lions. A few years ago, this 60,000-hectare property was part of one private estancia. It was sold for US$1.7 million to an organisation headed by an American business woman, then it was given back to the people. You can't wait for governments to protect the biodiversity and bio-richness of their countries. I think that individuals need to step up to the plate and pay their rent for living on the planet. Kris McDivitt is the former CEO of the Patagonia clothing company named after the region she grew to love travelling through South America. For the past decade, she's been putting her money into buying up ruined estancias But not every foreign purchase with which they can buy it. and turning them into national parks. The latest acquisition, this property on the Chilean side of Patagonia, is the most ambitious - a working station that will gradually become a wildlife haven. The gauchos retraining to be naturalist guides. Well, I don't think 130 years ago anyone was thinking about how - what was best or bad for the land, especially in an area like Patagonia that had such a low population. You can't imagine it not lasting. What could possibly - there is so much of it. What could possibly happen to this? And yet it happens very quickly. Across the frontier in Argentina, Monte Leon is showing the first signs of regeneration. The land is slowly repairing itself as native guanacos take the place of imported sheep and cattle. It's one of three Argentine properties bought by her Patagonia Conservation Trust. Even so, Kris McDivitt has had a hard time overcoming suspicion about her motives. In Chile and Argentina, there is not a long history of philanthropy of any kind and certainly not in terms of environmental projects. The best we can do is say, "Okay, look at what's actually happening. "What are we doing with these lands? "We're turning them back over into something for public access "and to the national patrimony." The old ways of Patagonia are slipping away. The descendants of those who tried to tame its wilderness are struggling to find their place. Much of the land they came to love has been exhausted. Patagonia's future now rests with a new wave of settlers, both those who will try to save the land and those who wish to conquer it again. And that's our program for tonight. Next week, I'll be reporting from Nollywood. Action! This year, I'm gonna be a star! The booming Nigerian film industry that's starting to outsell Hollywood in Africa. We are the best in Africa, no doubt! People call me from America, from London - they want my film, they want his film. Africa's dream factory - that's next Tuesday at 9:20, straight after the Bill. In the meantime, you can leave a comment on our website: www.abc.net.au/foreign. See you next week. Goodnight. Captions by Captioning and Subtitling International.