A group of Southern Arizona ranchers are exercising their First Amendment rights in seeking a redress of grievances from their senators and congressman.
The following is a petition to the federal government written by several ranchers on the Arizona-Mexican border. These ranchers have to deal everyday with illegal crossings and lack of proper infrastructure that would make our southern border more secure. Unlike politicians spouting talking points, these ranchers have first hand knowledge of what is really going on along our southern border. The federal government is failing to adequately protect the private property rights of these ranchers.
One of the ranchers, Jim Chilton, is a friend of mine and I have been on his ranch which lies south of Arivaca, AZ, and extends to the Mexican border. On the ranch, the Mexican border is marked by a four-strand barbed wire fence. That’s all. There are many trails from the border through the ranch. Two years ago Jim set up cameras on two of the trails. During that time the cameras captured approximately 500 trespassers going both north and south. Jim suspects he has recorded drug smugglers. The ranch headquarters has been burglarized twice and often water supply pipes to stock tanks have been broken. The smugglers have free run of the ranch because there is no real barrier.
Whereas, one of the most active drug smuggling and human trafficking corridors in the Nation is the international boundary between Nogales and Sasabe, Arizona;
Whereas, 25 miles along the border area south of Arivaca is marked by only an old four-strand barbed wire cattle fence;
Whereas, the Sinaloa Cartel has control of this 25-mile international boundary and of the thousands of square miles of minimally patrolled ranchland adjacent to it inside the United States, due to lack of adequate border infrastructure, the Border Patrol has been largely restricted to a “Defense in Depth” strategy which is inefficient due to rough terrain and inadequate access and allows the presence of well- equipped cartel scouts on top of our mountains to successfully direct drug and human trafficking;
Whereas, although the Tucson Station Patrol Agent-in-Charge and Border Patrol agents try their best to do their job, the lack of access and infrastructure, cartel scout presence, and rough terrain and inefficient “Defense in Depth” strategy creates a de facto “no man’s land” in which border ranchers live and work;
Whereas, the national Border Patrol Council Vice President, Art del Cueto, has asserted on national television that under the present situation, no more than 50% of illegal crossers are apprehended;
Whereas, Border Patrol agents are headquartered in Tucson, eighty miles and three hours from the border on our ranches and there are no roads paralleling the border and no efficient north-south access for the Border Patrol to respond to incursions; and
Whereas, current “defense in depth” strategy means the Tucson Station Border Patrol agents are dispersed across the 4,000 square miles of area of responsibility and are operating in the “backfield” instead of operating on the 25 linear miles of the actual border;
Therefore be it resolved, Border ranchers petition our government to construct an adequate security barrier such as a Bollard-style fence at the border, good all-weather, well-maintained roads leading to the border and along it, adequate, modern flood gates at water crossings, appropriate surveillance technology to monitor Border Patrol personnel and border status, air mobile support, and reliable communications for Border Patrol agents to call for back-up, and forward operations bases near the border barrier to effectively secure the international boundary between Nogales and Sasabe, Arizona.
The petition is signed by these ranchers: Jim Chilton, Chilton Ranch; Tom Kay, Jarillas Ranch; John R. Smith, Arivaca Ranch; Ted Noon, Oro Blanco Ranch; and Lowell Robinson, Tres Bellotas Ranch.
This post was first published in the Arizona Daily Independent where it received more than 100 comments.