The Sasabe Republic is a bilingual newspaper based in the border towns of Sasabe, Arizona and Sasabe, Sonora. It's sold at the Sasabe Store, and here on this site — please purchase a copy above. The Sasabe Republic ships internationally, five dollars to send anywhere in the world.


Recent census reports count approximately 2,000 people who live in Sasabe, Sonora, and 11 people who live in Sasabe, Arizona — this reporter makes 12. These numbers belie the busyness of the place though because they don't include the number of people who travel through here. The Sasabe Republic, in contrast, will include migrants in its stories, as well as the economy set up around them, and, in doing so, provide a more complete window into the U.S./Mexico borderlands, one of the most misunderstood regions in the world.


Devin Browne's stories have appeared on Marketplace, the BBC Newshour, The Takeaway, and PRI's The World; she's also been a guest on the Madeleine Brand Show, the State of Nevada, and Bandits and Bandidos on Radio Sonora, and was formerly the Phoenix correspondent for The Fronteras Project, a collaboration between seven NPR stations covering immigration and demographics across the Southwest. Ms. Browne's previous projects, MacArthur Park Media and The Entryway, spurred fervent, explosive dialogue and debate about race, class, and immigration on KPCC, KCRW, LA Observed, LAist, and the Los Angeles Times.


The story in this edition of the paper, Army Reservist Holds Migrants at Gunpoint, Inadvertently Incites Immigration Wars, is one I've wanted to write for years, mainly because I like explanatory stories, and this story, to me, explains so much of how Arizona got to be the epicenter of the immigration debate in the U.S. It also explains why distinctions in catchphrases like President Obama's "families not felons" (about who gets to stay, and who doesn't) are hardly distinctions at all in certain pockets of the country, like this one.


One Saturday night in April of 2005, Patrick Haab, a twenty-four year-old Army reservist, drove home to Mesa, from San Diego with his dog, .38-caliber handgun, .45-caliber handgun, and 134 rounds of unused ammunition. Along the way, he stopped at a rest area to walk his dog. It was after 9 o'clock and dark, but the rest area was lit well enough to see, first, the Suburban with the California plates, and then a man with a backpack walking towards it. Suddenly, Haab saw five or six more men "come barreling across the field and jump into the Suburban" at which point, he reached for his revolver.

The men, from the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Oaxaca, were on their way to Stockton, California, to live with relatives and work. In age, they ranged from 19 to 33, and in height from 5'3 to 5'8–at 5'11 Haab was the tallest and the biggest, with both the stature (athletic) and haircut (high and tight) typical of a man in the military. Still, he seemed uneasy, questioning the men, at several points that night: Do you guys have any weapons? Do you guys have any weapons?! (They did not.)

Haab followed the men to their car, shoved his foot in the door so it wouldn't close, took the keys from the driver, and called 911 to say: "Yeah, I've got some illegals out here."

A total of three dispatchers slowly put together why Haab was calling, not getting perhaps the most pertinent detail of the call until late into the conversation, when the third dispatcher asked: "So, they're all just sitting there minding you, huh?"

"Yeah," he told her. "I've got a–I got a firearm."

"Oh," the dispatcher said. "I see."

This would be something she'd need to let the units she was sending to the rest area know about–"Okay?"

Haab said that it was. He knew under Arizona's Open Carry law any adult person who is not a "prohibited possessor" may carry a weapon so long as it's visible to others. Of deeper concern, he felt, were the seven men in the Suburban. "Should I just keep them in the vehicle?" Haab asked. "Or splay 'em out on the ground?"

"Ya know," the dispatcher said back to him. "I can't tell you one way or another 'cause I'm a dispatcher. I'm not an officer. So I guess... do whatever you feel is appropriate."

And Haab would say, later, from jail, that he did exactly this, exactly what he felt was appropriate: He got another gun from his car, asked a man at the rest stop (a "civilian" who spoke Spanish) to help, and told the men to get out of the car and lay face down on the ground. Haab checked the vehicle for weapons. "Training was still in effect at this time," he said. "I was just doing what I was taught in the military." So it was something of a surprise, then, when the very sheriff's deputies Haab had called to help arrived on scene and promptly arrested him, took him to jail, and booked him on seven counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.


Excellent! Please enter your email here to see how the story ends. This also means you'll get The Sasabe Republic's infrequent, but important (and interesting!) announcements about future editions, and adaptations of the articles into film. (This is in the works.) You can unsubscribe at any time.


Thank you! I'm thrilled to have your support. You have two options.
You can:

Order a copy of The Sasabe Republic

A core value of the paper is that immigration-themed stories are written about the people they're for, and not everyone in the migration world has internet access. Also, the print version is beautiful and rare–only 1,000 copies are in print. It includes letters to and from the editor that aren't on the website, and a gorgeous hand-drawn illustration. Order as many as you like–five dollars per copy, sent anywhere in the world. Thank you so much!

Make a donation and support the paper's future

The paper exists because a truly extraordinary person, Dr. Robert McElroy, whom I met years ago while reporting a story in Tijuana's landfills, believed in me enough to give me a small grant to get started. The grant is now over. He understood what I'm sure you do too: that a topic as complicated and nuanced as immigration deserves dedicated, long-form stories that take time and money to produce. Please consider giving a donation of your choosing to ensure the future of the project in this medium, and, hopefully soon, in others as well. Thank you very much!