Border Tales

Border Security on the Mexican border does not receive the attention it should.  It must be considered a national security issue.  American Thinker interviewed border ranchers and law enforcement to understand their views regarding threats and solutions to America's security problem.

Many of the ranchers interviewed feel betrayed and abandoned.  They cite instances of illegals using their homes and territory.  Kelly Glenn-Kimbro, an Arizona rancher, told the story of a Mexican woman who had a baby in their ranch pasture and walked up to the house asking for help.  Dr. Gary Thrasher relayed the story that one day after coming home he went upstairs to find illegals who had gone through the doggy door.  As he was confronting them he heard his downstairs shower being used by two Mexican women.  There is the horror story of Robert Krentz who was murdered by an illegal shortly after his expressed his concern over his safety at a border security meeting.  A rancher from a family who were afraid to give their name concurred and told how they were threatened after putting up infra-red cameras, finding a picture of a masked man placing his gun in front of the camera. 

They are telling their stories because of the belief that most Americans have no idea what is really happening at the border.  One solution would be having the Border Patrol and the ranchers work as a cohesive unit.  Instead of being told not to detain or hold the illegals, they want to be able to capture them once they trespass on their ranch until the Border Patrol can arrive.  It can take Border Patrol agents up to an hour depending on their location.  One rancher summarized everyone's feelings that "as American citizens we should have the right of self defense."

Other solutions include having more "boots on the ground," which should include the redeployment of the National Guard, more operating bases directly on the border, and a change of the mentality from a law enforcement philosophy to a military one.  According to the ranchers, the border should be viewed as an enemy line which at this time is not being protected.  Another rancher, John Ladd, would like to see the reinstatement of portable towers directly on the border.  He explained that they were removed because the Mexicans started shooting at them and they were not bulletproof. 

All the ranchers interviewed agree that the number of illegals crossing the border has diminished, but view this as a misleading statistic.  They feel Border Patrol is trying to protect the border but is handicapped by the bureaucracy who want to show that the border is exponentially more secure.  For example, an area is secured, allowing the ranchers to see improvement, and then the manpower is pulled out for another area.  Anna, whose ranch is just a few miles from the border stated "of course things get better, people are there, but as the manpower leaves, the security actually gets worse over time." 

Tim Sullivan, in charge of the Douglas, Arizona Border Patrol station, defends the philosophy, "We are making a dent since there are less people illegally entering the country which means there will be fewer apprehensions; yet, those entering the country are always looking for ways to beat us."  He also sees the border security problem as a national security threat but unfortunately does not think "the sense of urgency among the American people is there yet."

It is a war zone between Border Patrol agents and the drug runners/smugglers.  Rocks the size of softballs are used against the agents as well as lethal weapons.  Many of the Border Patrol SUV's have been re-constructed with rod iron fencing around the windows and windshield to protect these officers.  Sullivan wants Americans to understand that the agents have a personal desire to secure the border since they are part of the community, raising their families in the area.  His solution is to build taller, heavier, double layered fences with ditches between them.  He is glad that there is now funding for a permanent eastern base as well as two temporary camps in the remote areas.  The best way to secure the border is using an "all of the above approach" that includes more agents, better fencing, video surveillance cameras, radar trucks, handheld detectors, ground sensors, lights, helicopters, UAV's, and specialty units on horses and bicycles.  A Border Patrol official wants the National Guard to remain at the border (their deployment is up this June) because "the guard is good at spotting aliens crossing the border.  We don't have to be where they are observing.  They are the additional eyes for us.  Boots on the ground is what will lead to success."

Homeland Security always cites that apprehensions are down as proof that the border is becoming secure.  However, Douglas, Arizona Chief of Police Alberto Melis estimates that the statistics of those caught entering America illegally range from four in ten to one in 2.6.  He compares the apprehension statistics to fishing for salmon in the river:  you can count the fish caught, not the ones that got away.  What is needed is a baseline statistic.  Cochise County Sheriff Larry Deaver agrees and argues that "you can't catch what you don't see.  Who are the people that got away?  For me, secure needs to mean safe.  The border is less safe than it has ever been because the illegals are more determined and more dangerous."  Both the Sheriff and Police Chief want to see more boots on the ground and technology including ground level fiberoptic cables. 

Michael Braun, the former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Chief of Operations, explains that the drug cartels became a very formidable threat over the last seven decades, because high level government and security officials cut deals with them to keep them in check, and in many cases, to line their pockets.  The cartels, driven by an insatiable greed, consistently broke all of these deals, evolved, and simply became more emboldened, stronger, and more efficient.  He would like to see the use of UAV's that have look down capability, and the significant increase in personnel necessary to monitor what is being collected by the platforms.  With this combination of technology and human assets a target area can be determined to allow patrol agents to helicopter in, make arrests and seize valuable and deadly contraband.

Border security is an issue which has not been on the forefront of America's consciousness.  The goal has to be to stop people illegally entering the country.  Homeland Security needs to quit quoting a useless statistic, those apprehended.  Besides improving and increasing technology as well as having a stronger presence on the border, baseline numbers must be established to see the successes and failures.  These statistics should include those illegally entering the country, those apprehended, and those that escaped.  The numbers game as well as a "do little attitude" by Homeland Security has to change.  There must be a need to confront the problem or it will be to the detriment of America's national security.
Border Security on the Mexican border does not receive the attention it should.  It must be considered a national security issue.  American Thinker interviewed border ranchers and law enforcement to understand their views regarding threats and solutions to America's security problem.

Many of the ranchers interviewed feel betrayed and abandoned.  They cite instances of illegals using their homes and territory.  Kelly Glenn-Kimbro, an Arizona rancher, told the story of a Mexican woman who had a baby in their ranch pasture and walked up to the house asking for help.  Dr. Gary Thrasher relayed the story that one day after coming home he went upstairs to find illegals who had gone through the doggy door.  As he was confronting them he heard his downstairs shower being used by two Mexican women.  There is the horror story of Robert Krentz who was murdered by an illegal shortly after his expressed his concern over his safety at a border security meeting.  A rancher from a family who were afraid to give their name concurred and told how they were threatened after putting up infra-red cameras, finding a picture of a masked man placing his gun in front of the camera. 

They are telling their stories because of the belief that most Americans have no idea what is really happening at the border.  One solution would be having the Border Patrol and the ranchers work as a cohesive unit.  Instead of being told not to detain or hold the illegals, they want to be able to capture them once they trespass on their ranch until the Border Patrol can arrive.  It can take Border Patrol agents up to an hour depending on their location.  One rancher summarized everyone's feelings that "as American citizens we should have the right of self defense."

Other solutions include having more "boots on the ground," which should include the redeployment of the National Guard, more operating bases directly on the border, and a change of the mentality from a law enforcement philosophy to a military one.  According to the ranchers, the border should be viewed as an enemy line which at this time is not being protected.  Another rancher, John Ladd, would like to see the reinstatement of portable towers directly on the border.  He explained that they were removed because the Mexicans started shooting at them and they were not bulletproof. 

All the ranchers interviewed agree that the number of illegals crossing the border has diminished, but view this as a misleading statistic.  They feel Border Patrol is trying to protect the border but is handicapped by the bureaucracy who want to show that the border is exponentially more secure.  For example, an area is secured, allowing the ranchers to see improvement, and then the manpower is pulled out for another area.  Anna, whose ranch is just a few miles from the border stated "of course things get better, people are there, but as the manpower leaves, the security actually gets worse over time." 

Tim Sullivan, in charge of the Douglas, Arizona Border Patrol station, defends the philosophy, "We are making a dent since there are less people illegally entering the country which means there will be fewer apprehensions; yet, those entering the country are always looking for ways to beat us."  He also sees the border security problem as a national security threat but unfortunately does not think "the sense of urgency among the American people is there yet."

It is a war zone between Border Patrol agents and the drug runners/smugglers.  Rocks the size of softballs are used against the agents as well as lethal weapons.  Many of the Border Patrol SUV's have been re-constructed with rod iron fencing around the windows and windshield to protect these officers.  Sullivan wants Americans to understand that the agents have a personal desire to secure the border since they are part of the community, raising their families in the area.  His solution is to build taller, heavier, double layered fences with ditches between them.  He is glad that there is now funding for a permanent eastern base as well as two temporary camps in the remote areas.  The best way to secure the border is using an "all of the above approach" that includes more agents, better fencing, video surveillance cameras, radar trucks, handheld detectors, ground sensors, lights, helicopters, UAV's, and specialty units on horses and bicycles.  A Border Patrol official wants the National Guard to remain at the border (their deployment is up this June) because "the guard is good at spotting aliens crossing the border.  We don't have to be where they are observing.  They are the additional eyes for us.  Boots on the ground is what will lead to success."

Homeland Security always cites that apprehensions are down as proof that the border is becoming secure.  However, Douglas, Arizona Chief of Police Alberto Melis estimates that the statistics of those caught entering America illegally range from four in ten to one in 2.6.  He compares the apprehension statistics to fishing for salmon in the river:  you can count the fish caught, not the ones that got away.  What is needed is a baseline statistic.  Cochise County Sheriff Larry Deaver agrees and argues that "you can't catch what you don't see.  Who are the people that got away?  For me, secure needs to mean safe.  The border is less safe than it has ever been because the illegals are more determined and more dangerous."  Both the Sheriff and Police Chief want to see more boots on the ground and technology including ground level fiberoptic cables. 

Michael Braun, the former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Chief of Operations, explains that the drug cartels became a very formidable threat over the last seven decades, because high level government and security officials cut deals with them to keep them in check, and in many cases, to line their pockets.  The cartels, driven by an insatiable greed, consistently broke all of these deals, evolved, and simply became more emboldened, stronger, and more efficient.  He would like to see the use of UAV's that have look down capability, and the significant increase in personnel necessary to monitor what is being collected by the platforms.  With this combination of technology and human assets a target area can be determined to allow patrol agents to helicopter in, make arrests and seize valuable and deadly contraband.

Border security is an issue which has not been on the forefront of America's consciousness.  The goal has to be to stop people illegally entering the country.  Homeland Security needs to quit quoting a useless statistic, those apprehended.  Besides improving and increasing technology as well as having a stronger presence on the border, baseline numbers must be established to see the successes and failures.  These statistics should include those illegally entering the country, those apprehended, and those that escaped.  The numbers game as well as a "do little attitude" by Homeland Security has to change.  There must be a need to confront the problem or it will be to the detriment of America's national security.

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