On behalf of the ranching families of Arizona who fear for their lives every day, I am calling on the director of the Department of Homeland Security to fulfill her duties and secure our borders.
Rob Krentz from Douglas, AZ, was murdered on his ranch March 27. Since all other signs have been ignored, his murder should serve as a wake-up call to the real problems caused by not securing our borders.
Don Kimble, a rancher and neighbor of the Krentz family, has repeatedly asked the DHS director what the government's plan is to secure the border. Kimble said, "I wasted an hour-and-a-half of my life on a conference call with the former governor of Arizona and now Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and she did not answer our question."
Napolitano continues to deny any security problems. Kimble said, "One would think the Border Patrol should actually patrol the border, yet they continue to do their work 25 miles north of the border."
The government needs to explain why those agents are not working at the border.
Apparently, some Arizona legislators do not believe Napolitano's repeated statements indicating that there are no problems at the border.
Arizona Cattlemen's Association Executive Director Patrick Bray and I accompanied those state lawmakers to Kimble's ranch. These elected officials were escorted by a group of Arizona SWAT team agents with a fully armored vehicle that was stockpiled with enough weapons to launch a war against a small country.
It seems pretty telling that the legislators felt the need to be protected by the best sharpshooters the state has to offer, yet our government expects the ranchers who live here every day to fend for themselves and protect their families while also caring for the land and providing food for our country.
After my visit to the Kimble and Krentz ranches, Bray and I also visited with Dan Bell, whose ranch lies on the border with Mexico just to the west of Nogales, AZ. Bell showed us many locations where heavily worn paths reveal the millions of feet that walk from Mexico into Arizona daily. Border Patrol agents must know of these high-traffic paths, yet they seem to steer clear of them. Why is that?
While the three of us were checking the frequently cut fence between Bell's pasture and the Mexican border, we came upon a grass fire that had started from a campfire built by people crossing the border illegally to keep warm the night before. The coals of the campfire were still hot when I found the area mid-morning. Footprints were plentiful, and again, the path was extremely worn where a daily caravan of people cross into the country illegally.
We can continue to dwell on the problem, but I believe it is high time we focus on the solution.
I fully endorse the Arizona Cattle Growers 18-point plan as the perfect template for restoring security at the border. It lists two important components: (1) start patrolling at the border, and then, (2) simply enforce the laws that are already on the books. New laws are not needed -- just better enforcement.
There is a serious problem with people entering the country illegally at our southern border, and it must be pointed out that not all of the newcomers are of Mexican descent. Ranchers indicate seeing more Muslims crossing their property every day, even leaving behind evidence of Muslim paraphernalia.
We have a serious border security issue here, and the ranching community is pleading with the rest of America to realize that this is not just an issue for Arizona; these people are infiltrating the rest of the nation through this porous border. They don't come into Arizona and stay there to work on ranches. They go to our big cities and meet others of their "groups," perhaps even hatching plots against American citizens.
For these reasons, I ask that DHS just do as its name implies and secure our homeland. It is too late for Krentz, but hopefully, the nation will take notice of his family's loss and make a serious effort to address this problem immediately.
Trent Loos is a sixth generation farmer/rancher from Loup City, NE. He is host of the "Loos Tales" radio show, public speaker and founder of Faces of Agriculture.