Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cochise ranchers feel abandoned by D.C. on border issues

DOUGLAS – Border security is a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, but Arizona ranchers who live near the border say they’ve been left out of the debate and forgotten by Washington lawmakers, who they say have done nothing about immigration reform. “In the federal government, there’s absolutely zero level of urgency,” said Ed Arshurst, a rancher in Cochise County. Arshurst’s ranch is 20 miles from the Arizona-Mexico border. A year ago he set up a camera system to capture images of the people who cut through his property. “See, this is dope,” Arshurst pointed to video images and photos of two men in camouflage clothing carrying large backpacks. “That traffic is no different, I’d say it has increased, although the government does not want people to know that,” Arshurst said. “You become numb to it, because there’s so much of it.” Cochise County shares 83 miles of border with Mexico. Although the number of undocumented workers crossing has declined, the region remains a major drug trafficking corridor. “We’ve had 51 trucks through our ranch in the last three and a half years, full of marijuana, full-size pickup, and hadn’t been caught,” said John Ladd, a rancher who is right on the border just west of Naco. “They’re cutting the steel wall down in the daytime, and driving three miles to the highway. Now you tell me that we have a secure border.” Ladd said he often sees smugglers or their lookouts on his ranch. Ranchers in Cochise County say they were promised more security five years ago after Robert Krentz was shot and killed on his ranch about 25 miles north of the border. “He called his brother on the phone, and he said there’s this illegal that looks like he’s sick, please call the Border Patrol,” said Susan Krentz, his wife. “That was the last time we heard of him. The next time we found him, he was already dead.” Robert Krentz’s murder remains unsolved. Border ranchers say they have had numerous meetings with lawmakers from Washington, including U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. “But nothing has changed,” said Ladd...more

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