Monday, April 03, 2017

Border wall plans need ranchers’ cooperation

 by Lauren Villagran

Standing between President Donald Trump and his promised border wall is New Mexico rancher William Hurt. Like thousands of other private landowners and leaseholders who live, ranch and farm along the Mexican border, Hurt knows the border firsthand – the terrain, the people, the risks. He and his family, fourth-generation ranchers, are among the largest landholders on the New Mexico border. They work in one of the most remote and rugged regions of the state, the southeastern corner of the Bootheel. Private and state-owned lands make up 67 percent of the nearly 2,000-mile Mexican border, according to a 2015 Government Accountability Office report. Hurt Cattle Co. ranches a mix of federal, state and privately leased or owned parcels, hundreds of thousands of acres from the border nearly to Interstate 10. Last month, the Trump administration issued a request for proposals to construct a “physically imposing” barrier on the southern border. To build the wall, the federal government would either need to work with these border landowners and leaseholders or take the land by eminent domain. Hurt has something to say about it. “Don’t even come down here and think about starting building a wall until you get input from the landowner,” he said. “And work with us and don’t come in and start condemning. … The best way to just absolutely get no cooperation is tell me what I’m gonna have to do to make you happy.” Hurt has had terrifying run-ins with illegal traffic on his property. He has also had neighborly relationships with farmers and ranchers on the other side of the border. Like that of many other border ranchers whose views are rooted in real-life experience, Hurt’s perception of the border isn’t one-dimensional. He is a registered Democrat. He voted for Trump. He is married to a woman from Mexico...more

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