SACPA Statement on Border Security
SACPA members live and work in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties, two of Southern Arizona’s three border counties. Other members live in Pinal County, which although not a border county, is the most heavily traveled smuggling “pass-through” county in the nation.
SACPA understands there is a clear difference between border security issues and immigration issues such as SB 1070 and the Dream Act. Our lives and safety directly depend on securing the border now. Just as a plumber shuts off the water before fixing a broken pipe, immigration issues must be addressed only after the international borders to the United States are secure.
We disagree with the Obama Administration’s claims that the border is already secure. The border cities are reasonably secure because that is where most of our law enforcement resources are targeted. Ranchers, however, live and work in the vast un-secured rural areas between those cities, the same areas where smugglers enjoy regular access to the nation’s interior.
Challenges to law enforcement’s ability to patrol the border stem from a combination of steep, rocky terrain and strict environmental regulations that prevent surveillance equipment and personnel from being placed in the best sites. Another challenge to securing the border is the fact that the Tohono O’Odham Nation extends from Southern Arizona into Mexico. Tribal members are dual citizens. That means our de-facto international border is the border of the reservation.
The Mexican border and the Tohono O’Odham reservation are bordered by numerous National Wilderness areas, National Monuments, National Riparian Areas, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and other set-asides intended to protect the natural condition of our federal lands. Environmental rules in those areas either outlaw or restrict mining, ranching, hunting, recreation and motorized travel so well that law abiding citizens are rarely present to hear, see, report or deter criminal activity. The result is that those lands have become a network of violent smuggling corridors from the Mexican border to nearly 100 miles north, and have turned many of the crown jewels of our “protected” natural spaces into a “no man’s land” and a maze of trash dumps, buffelgrass invasions and wildcat roads.
Many ranchers’ homes are located between the international border and the U.S. Border Patrol’s Forward Operating Bases. Imagine if your own home was there. Border Patrol sources have informed us that about one out of every five illegal immigrants has a violent criminal record. How would you feel if large groups of strangers, many of them armed, wandered through your front or back yard several times a day? How might it affect your children?
SACPA members live and work anywhere from directly on the Mexican border to more than 100 miles north of border. The smuggling trails affect the lives of SACPA members in all three counties. SACPA members living along the smuggling trails are frequently approached by illegal immigrants in need of assistance. In most cases ranchers choose to risk their own safety to prevent illegal immigrants from dying. Many SACPA members have discovered remains of illegal immigrants that perished on their journey. Some have discovered dozens of deceased illegal immigrants.
Violent crimes against illegal aliens are commonplace along the smuggling trail. These crimes include countless rapes, armed robberies, abandonment of the sick and injured in the desert, and murder. The vast majority of these crimes go unreported because the victims fear deportation, a fact that adds political bias to reported crime statistics.
The lives of our members are constantly endangered by the failure of the US Government to secure the border. Our members have had their homes broken into, they have rescued survivors of mass murders, they have sat down to breakfast with their young families and heard gun battles going on just outside their homes, and they have risen in the mornings to find illegal aliens sleeping in their living rooms or taking showers in their bathrooms. Home invasions are so commonplace that many ranchers cannot enjoy spending the holidays with their extended families on nearby ranches. Instead, someone must always stay behind to protect the home.
Smugglers frequently attempt to murder law enforcement agents. Unfortunately the mainstream media rarely reports it. All too often law enforcement agents must dodge bullets or large rocks being thrown at them. Smugglers have made countless attempts to run agents over with vehicles or ram agents’ vehicles to disable their radios and leave them stranded in the desert. Ranchers, Arizona Game and Fish agents and outdoorsmen also have been shot at simply for wandering too close to someone’s cargo. Numerous Mexican ranchers have been murdered for control of ranches that are adjacent to our members’ ranches, separated by only a barbed wire cattle fence on the international border.
In December 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Peck Canyon on a southern Arizona ranch a few miles north of Mexico. The unit of four agents was ordered to first fire bean bags at the five heavily armed men. Three weapons found at that crime scene were traced to the infamous “Fast and Furious” Operation where U.S. government officials ranking potentially as high as the White House knowingly and deliberately supplied the Mexican drug cartels with more than 2,000 weapons–with no means of tracking them. In March 2010 a leader in the ranching community and dear friend to many of us, Cochise County rancher Robert (Rob) Krentz and his dog were gunned down in cold blood by a suspected illegal alien on Krentz’s private land. The murderer escaped into Mexico through the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge.
In response to this atrocity, many of our members helped create the Arizona Cattlegrowers Association’s 18-point Restore Our Border (ROB) plan. Please join us in supporting the plan.
We are happy to connect interested parties with border ranchers who will explain the ROB plan and offer free guided tours of the nation’s southern border. We encourage anyone interested in having someone speak to their group or organization about the ROB plan to please contact us. To view related articles read on.