A former Border Patrol agent has become an immigrants rights activist and is using his singing talents to call for immigration reform and better understanding of those who cross the border in search of better economic opportunities in the United States.
John Randolph worked for the Border Patrol and federal immigration agencies for 26 years. He retired in 2005 and lives in Ridgway, a small town southwest of Denver.
I use the combination of music in Spanish and in English so that the immigrants may know that even someone who worked for 'La Migra' (immigration authorities) understands them, respects them and is in solidarity with them.
- John Randolph, former Border Patrol agent turned immigrant rights advocate
As part of his therapy to help him recover from the trauma he says he was left with after his years of service on the border, the 60-year-old Randolph sings in English and Spanish and his songs express solidarity with the immigrants and the organizations that help them.
Randolph also has posted a petition on the Web site Change.org asking the U.S. government to sanction Mexico for paying low salaries, something that - he says - fosters the massive movement of migrants from that country across its northern border.
"I created this petition to ask the U.S. federal government to sanction Mexico until Mexico raises its minimum hourly wage so that that pay is comparable to that of the United States," Randolph told Efe.
Randolph says that Mexico already has enough economic resources to offer better salaries to its workers, thanks in part to flourishing bilateral trade.
"The common citizens of both the United States and Mexico suffer while the 1 percent of both countries continue to profit. This inequality must stop in order for the 99 percent of both the United States and Mexico to prosper," the petition reads.
"The rich in Mexico export an underclass of poor and the rich in the United States benefit from cheap labor," Randolph says. "But those who pay the cost of the health care and education services for those workers are the (U.S.) taxpayers, not the rich."
The petition, he said, is one of the ways to raise awareness among the public about the joint responsibility of the U.S. and Mexican governments to resolve the immigration issue.
The other way is his CD, recorded in 2010, on which he speaks about the need for immigration reform and defends respect for the rights of immigrants.
"I use the combination of music in Spanish and in English so that the immigrants may know that even someone who worked for 'La Migra' (immigration authorities) understands them, respects them and is in solidarity with them," said Randolph.
Being a witness to the deaths of many immigrants along the border - as well as two of his colleagues - and seeing the desperation that leads entire families to leave their native land to travel to the United States, he says, made him understand that the presence of immigrants is a symptom of numerous problems, but not the cause.
For example, he said, few people connect the immigration wave from Mexico to the United States in the 1990s with the 1994 implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which resulted in the closure of many small businesses and farms in Mexico.
"I'm asking people to inform themselves before accusing the undocumented people for coming here. The problem is much more serious than what our politicians want to have us believe," he said.