The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as part of the Obama administration’s push for immigration reform, has been touting the security of the southern border. Prior to leaving DHS, former Secretary Napolitano claimed that the border has never been more secure.
Napolitano told ABC News, “This is not the same border that was.” And Arizonans agree. It is not the same border it used to be.
Arizona ranchers are seeing one key difference: the border crossers are no longer seeking jobs. They don’t have to. They have jobs with the cartels.
On a recent trip to the southern border, Arizona State Senator Al Melvin and international businessman Alberto Moore saw firsthand what the ranchers and their families now experience along the “secure” border.
Melvin and Moore, who are working together to promote the development of a deep water port in Guaymas, Mexico which they say will bring prosperity to the Mexican people while providing an outlet for shipments of American coal, recounted their fact finding to a Tucson radio show audience.
Both men told of an incident in which a meeting they were having with border area ranchers was interrupted by a frantic call from a rancher’s wife, who was concerned about a group of border crossers who came to her door asking for help for their wives and children in desperate need of water and food.
The woman was alone with her four young children and was struggling between her desire to help those in distress and her new found distrust of the new brand of crossers. In the past, as a devout Christian, she had always offered assistance to the families crossing the desert in search of the American Dream, but as Napolitano said, “It is not the same border it used to be.”
The meeting held at one rancher’s home, just 20 miles north of the border, was about a mile and a half away.
The rancher invited Melvin, who recently announced the formation of his Exploratory Committee for Governor, to accompany him home. Upon their arrival, the coyote for the group emerged from the barn with his hands up in the air. He was with two others. All three were dressed in all black. Black is considered the uniform of Mexico’s cartel members.
Contrary to the story they told the rancher’s wife, the men were not accompanied by their wives and children and have crossed the border many times before.
Moore, a long time Arizonan, did not need an interpreter for the exchange with the men. The coyote told them he was illegal but had been schooled in Phoenix and was fluent in English. The other two were reportedly from Vera Cruz and Chapas. The two men had paid the coyote $3,500 for safe passage to Phoenix. The coyote’s father, an illegal entrant himself, operated the human stash house in Phoenix to which illegal entrants are delivered. After paying the coyote’s father, they would then be allowed to move onto Chicago, which was their ultimate destination.
Moore said the trip revealed a border fence from Naco to the San Pedro River that is full of holes. “Even our Governor’s office is just not really interested in solving this problem, and what’s really concerning is that the good people on the border, the ranchers and farmers, are subject not only to the vandalism but other possible hostile activities.”
Moore said he had contacted the Governor’s office who said that if the ranchers were interested in telling their stories, they would have to come to her to do it.
But it is the act of leaving their homes that is of primary concern to the ranchers. They dare not leave their families alone or their homes vacant.
Cartel members have left vacant homes in shambles and families defenseless. Moore says that is “really the greatest tragedy. The residents are now at the point where they must be friendly with the cartels in the hope that they will not become one more victim in the drug wars.”
They don’t know who to turn to, according to Melvin and Moore. DHS has issued orders that have tied the hands of Border Patrol agents, and local law enforcement knows the feds are only engaging in “catch and release.”
One interesting development Melvin and Moore found on their trip was a concern of U.S. ranchers for the health of cattle from Mexico’s interior. Ranchers says that cattle are coming through the fence, either intentionally as part of a cartel money laundering scheme or simply strays, with diseases that affect our healthy herds.
“The Sonoran cattle are in pretty good shape,” says Moore, “but the cattle from very far south is full of disease and what happens, it hurts the cattlemen. If they are caught with Mexican cattle on their ranches, they get fined and there is nothing they can do about it.”
“The government wants us to believe that everybody’s happy and there’s nobody crossing the border, but the cartels are nobody’s fool,” said Moore. “The only thing the American people, the citizens of Arizona, have to do is start complaining to the government; our government. They have to start bringing attention to these poor people who are working on the border trying to raise cattle.” Moore concluded, “The ranchers even have to pay to repair the fence to protect their own cattle.”
“The vast majority of uniformed Border Patrol agents are competent and capable law enforcement personnel,” says Senator Melvin. “The problem is not with them but with their management. Napoleon once said that there are no bad regiments, only incompetent colonels. The same can be said of the Border Patrol. The way to fix this scandalous situation is to put a retired US Marine Corps general in charge of Homeland Security and another one in charge of the Border Patrol. Using current headcount and monetary resources, they will secure the border in short order. Our congressional delegation should demand that these appointments be made as soon as possible.”
Melvin says that the surest way to secure the border is to bring economic security to the people of Mexico. To that end, Melvin hopes to bring attention to the fact that while more and more American ports are refusing to export coal as a result of Obama’s attack on coal, Mexico would jump at the opportunity.
As empty railcars make their way down to Mexico’s car factories only to return with vehicles that were once made with pride here, Melvin would like to see the coal and copper, which is proudly harvested by American miners, head south on those same rails.
Arizonans know what few in the rest of the country understand: the border is porous, as porous as it has ever been, and the once deep commitment of people on both sides of the border to live harmoniously and in shared prosperity is being eroded by a government not committed to either harmony or prosperity.