The situation at the border continues to get worse and grab headlines, even after Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent trip. Farmers and ranchers along the border have been dealing with the surge of illegal immigration and smugglers driving vehicles crowded with immigrants entering the U.S illegally. VP Harris’s trip was nothing more than a mere photo-op for the press, but the farmers are left picking up the pieces.
Stephanie Crisp-Canales was born and raised about 56 miles from the Mexican border, growing up on a family ranch and saying that the experience with illegal immigrants wasn’t awful. She said when she reached the age of 14 or 15 years old that she started to see a change and it no longer became safe to go outside. She went on to say that they have multiple “bailouts” a day and that the situation has gotten worse.
The American Farm Bureau Foundation even sent a letter to the Biden Administration in June, asking them to address the surge of illegal immigrants entering the U.S. The letter explains how local and state border security resources have been exhausted and that many farmers and ranchers are left fending for themselves. They mention human smugglers (coyotes) who are making false promises and doing whatever it takes to get paid and get away, even if it means jeopardizing lives and property.
“In their desperation to evade law enforcement, Coyotes abandon people, steal vehicles, vandalize property and threaten the safety and livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. They are often criminals who smuggle drugs and firearms into the country, frequently leaving them on farmers’ and ranchers’ property, causing unrest for farm and ranch families,” the letter reads.
Texas rancher Dale Smith adds that it’s “dramatically different than what we’ve seen in the past.” He said they used to see families or people who are friendly crossing the border and now it is individuals with camouflaged backpacks carrying firearms and drugs along the highway. They went from knocking on people’s doors for food and water to having people take things, cut fences, and break into tanks of water.
Another rancher said he went from having two bailout incidents on his farm over the last six years to having weekly occurrences, adding that it gets expensive to fix and repair gates when it’s happening multiple times a week. Every time a vehicle rams through a fence, the repair cost averages from $1,000-$4,000. One property in Lavaca County recently lost six fences and risked livestock escaping through the fence hole.
“When there’s a disaster of some kind — people lose property or lose their home, or lose part of their property — there are places that you can go apply and say, ‘OK, this is what I lost. Here’s my documentation. We don’t have a direct way to do it. I mean, if the administration is going to come up with something, it’s going to have to be administered and run by them,” one rancher said.
The Texas Farmers Bureau President Russell Boening said his group’s farmers have been dealing with human smugglers driving vehicles through their fields of crops, residences broken into, and families left stranded on their property. They’ve been requesting additional federal authorities to provide resources and enforce legal immigration to secure the U.S Border, saying that the current situation should not be acceptable to President Joe Biden or any American. The group said that people have been treated as a disposable source of income and landowners are living in fear while Coyotes reap a windfall from leaving people destitute.
While the White House agreed to a virtual meeting in late June to let farmers plead their case, elected officials did not explain how they would help Texas farmers being impacted by rising illegal immigration. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed state enforcement and the National Guard, as well as law enforcement from non-border states. He has also vowed to continue former President Donald Trump’s border wall up and down the state’s border with Mexico, raising more than $450,000 in donations already.
Biden Administration officials have continued to assure ranchers that they will get back to them on some things they are doing, but ranchers haven’t seen anything yet. President Biden needs to secure the border, slow the surge of illegal immigrants, and restore order in our border communities, but he’s too busy tearing Trump-era policies and opening the border for votes.