How much is too much?
Golfing at my favorite course, Rio Rico, south of our winter home in Green Valley in Arizona, one often spots the green-striped white Border Patrol vehicles in the area. Head to Kino Springs golf course a little farther south and west and your round of golf means playing WITH the Border Patrol as planes and pickups roam the area.
Within 25 miles of the border they can enter private property, though not dwellings, any time they wish.
Which brings us to Steward Loew, a 44-year-old farmer who lives outside of the small spot in the road called Amado, notably famous for the Cow Palace restaurant. Hey, if it was good enough for all those Hollywood Western leading men, it's good enough for me.
Loew was featured in a recent article in The New York Times by Todd Miller. Miller has a book coming out on the border area and it is easy to plug Loew's story into the equation.
He's a third-generation farmer of onions, garlic and pumpkins. Miller starts the story with Loew being surrounded in the middle of the night by patrol agents as he's irrigating his fields. The agents had just walked onto his land -- even though he lives 30 miles from the border. Oh well, a little slippage of the rules here, a little slippage there.
I'm sure Loew has had immigrants passing through his farm -- just south of Amado is a border patrol checkpoint and immigrants fan out before they reach that point and then move back closer to I-19 when they pass it.
When Loew couldn't produce his identification to the agents -- he was out in the middle of the night in pajamas -- he was hustled back to the house where local law enforcement vouched for him. You'd have to guess that most of the border patrol agents have no idea whose land they are on and who the owners are on sight.
You have to wonder, too, how much it will change with an additional $40 billion dumped in the kitty.
The skies are already filled with fixed-wing planes, helicopters and yes, drones. Not that I've seen one of those, but the Predator Bs are flown in the border areas.
Miller used a quote from Sen. John McCain that with the extra money for militarization of the border, it would become "the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall."
Is that really what we want to do with our borders, turn them into militarized zones? Aren't the contraband sniffing dogs, the thousands and thousands of more boots on the ground, the aircraft and surveillance towers enough?
Certainly not for some people, but it strikes me that military contractors seeking new outlets for their gee-whiz technology are just waiting to make a killing by militarizing our borders as the war in Iraq ended and the one in Afghanistan is winding down.
Miller notes Homeland Security Today magazine, looking at the added funding for border security, suggested there's a treasure trove for contractors wanting to jump into the border security industry.
Makes you think it has more to do with making money than keeping a potential maid or day laborer from jumping the border, doesn't it?
In fact, funding for border security and immigration enforcement was pegged at $18 billion in 2012, about 24 percent MORE than the $14.4 billion spent on the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, the Marshals Service and Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
One has to wonder where, exactly, that extra $40 billion, more than a 100 percent increase, is going to go.
I think McCain probably has it a little wrong -- that $40 billion is going to turn the border areas into a veritable war zone, not just a militarized area.
If this passes I expect I'll be seeing more and more of the border patrol on my golf outings, and everywhere else I travel in southern Arizona.
Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the News-Review. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.