06/26/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

No Federal Help in Arizona, Gov. Brewer? That's a Laugh

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, in signing last week's bill that makes potential criminals out of people with a swarthy complexion, said indignantly that citizens of her state "have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act."

She must be referring to Lou "Still Not Back on TV" Dobbs and his buddies, for swiftly killing comprehensive immigration reform three years ago, legislation even the congenitally clueless Dubya wanted.

That's because the Feds ARE acting, all right, in Arizona. There's a small occupying army in southern Arizona. It's called the Border Patrol.

When we came to Arizona from the Seattle area not long ago and took a vacation rental in the sajuaro-filled desert, my wife and I had no idea we were going to hear Border Patrol helicopters buzzing the area all night. Nor did we know we'd be stopped by the ubiquitous Border Patrol on I-19 every time we entered and exited the Interstate.

We were not expecting to hear on "The CBS Evening News" that 250,000 "illegals" had been detained in our remote Border Patrol sector -- in just the past three months.

Nor did we expect to see helipads and Wackenhut Security roundup buses (with bars on the windows) parked out in the desert near the remote burg of Arivaca as we headed out to go birdwatching in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.

We had inadvertently chosen to vacation in Border Patrol Central.

Between Tucson and just north of Amado (where we were staying) lies the retirement town of Green Valley. I'd heard of the Minutemen -- the anti-immigrant forerunners of the Tea Party -- but thought they were a joke more than anything else.

Wrong. They have an active chapter in Green Valley, and they fancy themselves as the "eyes and ears" of the Border Patrol, one eagle-eyed Minuteman proudly told a Tucson daily.

The drive out into the remote and desolate desert just north of the Mexican border, from I-19 to Arivaca, is an eye-opening experience, especially for a couple from the far-off Pacific Northwest, where we live within sight of the Canadian border but rarely see the Border Patrol.

All along that lonely highway, hundreds of empty plastic milk jugs are strewn along the road -- left by Mexicans coming across the border at night. No sign of life, though, during the day - besides all the white Border patrol SUV's, that is.

But an 81-year-old docent/birdwatcher at the Buenos Aires preserve told us he sees Mexican refugees out on the trail often during the day. We asked him what he does when he encounters these "dangerous illegal aliens" while leading birder hikes.

"Nothing; they never bother us," he shrugged.

While we were down in Southern Arizona, humanitarian groups had started leaving bottles full of water along that lonely road in the desert so the desperate and parched "illegals": wouldn't die of thirst. The Border Patrol started arresting and detaining them.

So tell me again, Gov. Brewer, about Washington "failing to act" to keep Mexicans out. I could use a good laugh.

At least, Madame Governor, you might have the decency to thank the army of federal Border Patrol officers for doing a dirty, thankless job out in your desert.