Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Border Ranchers: Politicians should have taken action 5 years ago
Meanwhile, ranchers say they've been bombarded by immigrants for a very long time, are paying the price and need lawmakers' help.
"You'll see some evidence, every day, of them coming through," cattle rancher Ronnie Osburn says.
The evidence could be an empty water jug, tossed like a bread crumb on the trail, or a fence ripped apart by desperate hands.
"That's the way we live down here," Osburn says.
Every day, Osburn works his land knowing - even while we're talking - immigrants are all around the extensive property.
"Of course the coyotes, the guys leading them, they don't want to get caught," he says.
The ranch is along Highway 281, a major highway that's also a major smuggling route.
"I'm four miles south of the checkpoint," Osburn says.
So to avoid Border Patrol agents, huge groups of immigrants - often armed, often carrying drugs - wind their way north through his ranch.
"It's rough going in this sand," Osburn says. "You walk a mile in this sand, it's like walking five miles down the paved road."
And along the way, they cut holes in fences or break pipes to get water.
"Any equipment that's out there that has a key in it - or whichever way they can crank a tractor up - they're going to get in it and use it," Brooks County Sheriff's Office chief deputy Benny Martinez says.
He says the cost of the damage is staggering.
"Since '09, it's half a million dollars," chief deputy Martinez says. "Maybe closer to a million dollars in property damage to these ranchers."
What you can't put a price on: the human toll.
"You get that many people, you get that many stories," Osburn says. "Everyone's got their own story."
His personal photographs show sometimes, his ranch becomes a final resting place.
"This is about a 14-year-old girl that we found down south of where we're standing right now," Osburn says. "She'd been dead probably about ten days, maybe."
It's chilling. And it's why the cattle rancher hopes this time, politicians are truly realizing just how high the stakes are.
"It's like somebody finally turned on the light bulb up north of here," Osburn says...more
If any light bulbs are flickering, its only because this is an election year.