With 3,000 illegal aliens crossing our valley every night, Cochise County, Arizona, is a community under siege. Many residents here—ranchers and farmers whose property hugs the Mexican border—alert the Border Patrol multiple times each day to groups sneaking across our lands into the United States. Most of us have been ambushed by illegals at one time or another. Traveling outdoors, we are often forced to carry a cell phone, a two-way radio, and a weapon for our own protection—in many places just to get from the kitchen to the barn door.
Home invasions, robberies, petty crime are frequent. After a mother and daughter were attacked en route to school one morning, sheriff's deputies began following some school buses as they made their rounds. But far more often, we are left to fend for ourselves. The chronically understaffed Border Patrol simply cannot respond to all the calls they receive, a fact not lost on the coyotes and smugglers, who break the law with impunity. Locals have resorted to their own version of 911 to cope. Every ranch and farmhouse has a two-way radio that links it to all others, an essential tool that has saved more than one life.
In our community, where thousands of illegals from every country in the world trespass across our land daily, the degradation has become an environmental disaster. Mountains of garbage litter the "lay-over sites"—places where the illegals wait for their next pick up. These sites are akin to open-air latrines, strewn amid the used toiletries, backpacks, travel documents (written in Spanish, Arabic and other languages), and discarded clothes are syringes, needles and empty pill bottles—alarming evidence that many of the illegal aliens coming through may be sick with communicable diseases or on narcotics.
Ranchers and park rangers must clean up these sites regularly to prevent livestock and wildlife from eating the refuse. Despite their best efforts it is all too common to see young calves or deer dead, plastic bags still hanging from their mouths. Eating the plastic causes the animal to die an agonizing death due to impaction. One rancher lost his prize breeding bull this way. Cost: $3,000.
Illegals vandalize our equipment and pollute our water supply. Ranchers, hoping to prevent drainage of their water tanks, installed water spigots on the tanks marked "aqua aqui." Even so, spigots are frequently broken off—draining the tanks—or water pipes are cut to access the water. It can take days for a rancher or farmer to find a break and repair it. Water toughs are fouled with soap, toothpaste, and other unmentionables. Summer monsoon rains mix with the mountains of human feces, which drain into the arroyos and then into the underground water supply.
Fences are cut every night by illegal aliens and repaired every day by ranchers in an effort to maintain control of their herds. A rancher can repair the same fence in the same place three or four times in the same day. With gates left open livestock wonder onto roads into vehicle traffic and are killed. Or they wonder through the cut fences into Mexico. Cattle rustling is not uncommon. Each head is $1,000. Cattle that drift in from Mexico bring with them diseases that can infect a herd. Illegals can also bring in diseases—on the soles of their shoes. National security becomes a health issue.
Foot and vehicle traffic that come with illegal aliens so compact the ground that nothing can grow. Where there is grass, the coyotes will set decoy fires to draw attention away from their loads. Or the illegals, abandoned in the desert and eager to be found, will start grass fires to signal help. Ranchers do not so much raise cattle as they grow grass. Yet, under this relentless onslaught, our lands are dying—and so is our way of life. I cannot live on my land because Border Patrol cannot guarantee my safety or their own. Last year, an off-duty Border Patrol agent responsible for patrolling our section of the border was murdered by Mexican drug smugglers who had just been released from the Cochise County jail the week before: they bashed his head in with boulders.
Despite numerous efforts of reaching out to our elected officials and media, nothing happened until the Minuteman Project this April. Suddenly everyone knows about my family's section of the border. The media poured in alongside Minutemen scrutinizing their every move. As a result, the world witnessed the volunteers, armed with only cell phones and binoculars, as they successfully secured the border—if only temporarily.
The Minuteman Project effectively eliminated the myth once and for all that the border could not be secured. It can be but we always knew that. How anyone could actually believe that the US military, the world's most professional, educated, and technologically advanced, could not secure its own borders was beyond me. Currently, it is being required to secure the borders of South Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It only took a few gray haired retirees (the average age of the Minutemen was 55) to set the politicians and media straight.
The Minuteman Project succeeded in recruiting volunteers because illegal immigration had reached critical mass in Middle America. The thousands pouring across the border are showing up in suburbs and small towns hanging out at the Seven Elevens, street corners, fast food restaurants, construction sites, emergency rooms, schools, and day labor sites.
Illegal immigration does not affect the elites or the talking heads in Washington, DC. Its effects begin at the lower levels of our society with the unskilled laborers and works its way up until Middle Class America is now overwhelmed.
A few border counties in a couple of states have been declared states of emergency. Too little too late. These efforts are empty and only serve the political ambitions of the governors involved. In July two Border Patrol agents near Nogales, Arizona were mowed down by gunfire from high-powered weapons. It is rumored that one will be crippled for life and the other confined to a desk job. It will take more than a 'state of emergency' to prevent this from happening again. And it will.
Homeland security does not exist for us on the border, nor is American law the Law of the Land. It we speak out, our lives are threatened. Corruption knows no international boundary. The smuggler and coyote rule here with bribes and threats. If American law is exercised it is used against the American citizen. Currently, Roger Barnett, who has detained over 15,000 illegals on his ranch alone over the years is being sued by MALDEF on behalf of the illegals. One is suing him from Mexico because he cannot enter the US. If he did, he would be arrested on prior charges for drug smuggling.
The border region is becoming less like America and more like Mexico—a no man's land—it is becoming our version of Iraq.