Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mexico Halts Immigrant Xmas Trees at Border

In a stunning tit-for-tat against US calls for tighter border policies regarding Mexican immigrants, officials in our neighbor to the south have retaliated with a "no mas" to 2,000 Oregon-grown Douglas Firs:
According to the Profepa, Mexican inspectors seized a shipment of almost 2,000 Oregon-grown trees at the Colombia crossing on the Nuevo Leon-Texas border. Justifying its action, the environmental protection agency said the trees were detained after inspectors discovered live Douglas fir twig weevil larvae in the shipment. The trees will be returned to the US, the Profepa said.

In a Mexico City press conference, Profepa official Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada outlined the different phases of Operation Christmas Tree. In addition to inspecting US and Canadian tree plantations for infestations and diseases, Elvira said Profepa personnel would check ports-of-entry, monitor highway traffic and visit commercial points of sale. The twin objective of the program is to curb illegal tree harvesting and ensure that Mexican consumers purchase healthy trees grown in a sustainable manner, he added. Operation Christmas Tree is expected to continue through December.
Sure, they say that the trees were infested with vermin, but we know that kind of pejorative reductionism is all too easy to apply. I think the primary motive is revenge. Daniel's Unbalanced Musings are part of a tiny but vocal cadre of angry white bloggers in Oregon, and I think their sponsored stunts harrassing day laborers (instead of the employers) have annoyed the Mexican government, and this is how they're responding. They're watching us. They KNOW we're the #1 tree state in the country, and they know our trees are a point of pride. They're on the lookout, waiting for trees to sneak over the border or perhaps be brought over en masse by what's known as a mule (we call them truck drivers here). And since trees are ironically made of paper yet cannot produce them at the border when required, they're sitting ducks for Mexican immigration officials.

Our producers seem undaunted, gearing up for another big season of holiday outsourcing as if unaffected by tensions at the border:

On the 160 acres that make up the Calico farm, the Schmidts can cut, bail and load for delivery about 1,000 trees a day. For about a month during this time each year, the Schmidts ready about 30,000 Douglas firs, grand firs, noble firs and pines for wholesale delivery.

The trees are shipped to lots locally and to those as far away as Austin, Texas.

"It makes us feel good to supply trees to people that live in rural areas in Texas," Wayman said.

A tree is ready for harvest once it gets about 6 feet tall. That can take six, seven or eight years, depending on the tree.

"This is for me a hobby and a pastime that's turned into a lifestyle," said Phil Adams, of Oakland Tree Farms, as he helped load 600 trees.

They seem blissfully unaware of the fate that awaits the trees once they get to Texas, don't they? Operation Christmas Tree isn't sleeping this holiday; they're lying in wait as unsuspecting conifers make their way south from Austin, hoping to provide shelter for gifts and aromatherapy for Mexican homes at a fraction of the price of "native" trees. Families like them because they work hard at not dropping needles, and when they no longer have a use for them, they can just put them out on the curb and hire...er, buy a new one next year.

Also among officials' concerns is the worry that the trees will drop cones along the journey, leading to thousands if not millions of what are known as "anchor seedlings." Once implanted on Mexican ground, a seedling becomes a legal Mexican tree, eligible for free water and sun. While some have claimed that these new floral immigrants only use daylight and water that Mexican trees don't want, officials are unpersuaded, with some extremists even calling for uprooting such "naturalized" trees and sending them back to America.

I think they're fucking with us. Are we going to stand for this, letting Mexicans treat our glorious firs like so much ready kindling? I say no. Let there be a Reconquistador movement, so that one day we may reclaim the land on which our trees grew freely (so the legend goes). To the mattresses!! Smash your bottles of Herradurra and exchange your frequent flier miles for that trip to Cabo in January! Protect Oregon's honor! Viva la Revolucion Evergreen!