The Cliché of the Las Cruces Underbelly

I’ve discovered a secret about Las Cruces. I suspect that it exists in other cities as well, but I was shocked that it existed in my beloved home town. This is the town where I was born. This is the town where I grew up. I still call it a “Town,” because I still remember when there were way less than 20k people living here. It’s broken my heart to realize this sort of thing exists here, but it did open my eyes and take away the final veil of innocence with which I had grown up.

You may have seen them. Teens, twenty and early thirty year olds living on the street and hustling for cash. No, I don’t mean the good honest folks who have been struck down into poverty because of the economy or some tragedy in their lives. The ones who would willingly clean your windshield or your yard for a measly wage to help pull themselves out of the hole they found themselves in. I don’t mean them.

I mean these kids who have actually chosen to be the dregs of society. It’s a cliché. They had a good home life with family and friends who supported and wanted nothing but the best for them. They had the world at their fingertips. School was available, high school and our own NMSU and DACC for higher education and, at the very least, the opportunity to learn a trade with which they could get a decent job and support themselves. With which they could support themselves and their own families. Mothers with multiple children from multiple fathers who have disappeared from their lives. Yes, there are also good parents in the mix, but far too few. I’m seeing these kids, and yes they are kids. They haven’t grown up yet, and may never. I’m seeing these kids, these young adults, hustling for cash. Pulling car doors to see if anyone left something valuable inside and forgot to lock up. Then they’ll take the computer or camera or whatever to sell to someone to get a $20 bag of drugs. They float from one party to another. They engage in multiple sex partners just for another score of drugs. They drive their parents’ cars and then let their low life druggie friends borrow them for another score. This is their life. One score to the next. It’s what they live for. It’s a miserable life. They struggle with addiction, with possible STDs, thieves, murder, abuse, and pretty much everything that goes along with the standard urban underbelly where these shadow people exist. They participate in violent home invasions and even cybercrimes. Oh, don’t be surprised by that last one. I never said they were idiots. Some of them have skills and are intelligent enough to hack your home network, rob your bank account, and get out before you know what happened.

This life of crime and villainy was chosen by them. Sure, some will do their homework and do an expert job of showing the signs of a mental illness to get out of some crime or another. Some of them may legitimately have mental issues, but most of them are perfectly sane. So, my question is why? Why would someone in their right mind consciously choose to become this? They’re intelligent enough to know that sooner or later their deceptions will be found out, and at the very least they will lose the trust and support of their families. At worst, prison or even death. Death, leaving your babies behind to wonder why. I mean, I was raised to be responsible, to support and provide for my family. I understand not everyone was raised like that, but it’s no excuse. When you have four or five kids that depend on you, why would you choose to live in the gutter with a needle in your arm instead of working a respectful job that pays for your rent, your food, your bills, school, and everything else you need, not to mention keeping your babies safe from the people you have become?

I don’t understand. Someone please fill me in.

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