Chad Campbell was the next producer to get ambitious. Chad organized a January 2006 trip to the southern Arizona desert to report on illegal immigration. This was before immigration came up in Congress and set off a real media blitz on the issue, so we were ahead of the pack on this one. Chad, Geoffrey Redick, and I went to the border town of Nogales and rode in a U.S. Border Patrol squad car, interviewing our driver, agent Gustavo Soto, son of a legal Mexican immigrant. We witnessed the arrest of several Mexicans entering Nogales through a storm drainage tunnel that runs under the border. We saw another bust the next day on a second desert drive—this time with the Samaritans, a group of humanitarian volunteers who provide medical assistance to immigrants between Nogales and Tucson, seventy miles north. Our Samaritan driver was Michael Hyatt, a very fine photographer who documented our journey. Dr. Bob Cairns was also aboard; the Samaritan patrols always include a medical professional and someone fluent in Spanish.
We happened upon the arrest of a group so large it required a bus to haul them away. One young man had an ugly head wound, which the Border Patrol attributed to a fall as the migrant was running away. I was doubtful. Dr. Cairns examined him. He clearly needed stitches. I’ll never forget the sight of him in his Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. Immigrants are advised to wear American gear so they’ll “fit in” as locals when they reach the United States.