Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ranching on the US-Mexican Border

This short story was posted by the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau and asked to be shared with readers. I am gladly including this border ranching account on this page as very few people actually know the day in and day out dangers of living so close to an over run and sparsely enforced border. And it is not just the ranches abutting the border. Families and ranches 50 miles inside the border often find their gates left open or damaged, fences cut, piles of trash, houses broken into, and employees threatened.

The Border Patrol is taking daily insults and untruthful allegations about a perceived lack of enforcement coupled with an abusive manner towards detainees. With a huge number of Border Patrol agents being diverted to care for aliens in detention centers, the border is much less patrolled than is was in past years. And make no mistake about it - every group of illegal aliens coming across the border are controlled by the Drug Cartels using the aliens and the diversion to US enforcement response for their narcotics smuggling operations. This also leaves the ranchers even less protected.

Don't let their politicians tell you different. I live on the border...I know the deal. I have worked on and know ranchers from West Texas through Arizona. They are both fed up and fearful with a lack of response from Legislators. Read the below account and put yourself in the boots of Ms Johnson-Valdez.

Erica Johnson-Valdez's ranch is 25 miles north of the US/Mexico border, but at ground zero for drug smuggling activity. She shares a typical day:

"It's 6 am and the sun has just started to break over the Pyramid Mountains. My husband and I drop off our 13 year-old daughter and a friend of hers (10 years-old) to trail cattle to the bottom of a canyon about a mile and a half away. We've already been trotting for about 30 minutes and we're far from the trucks and completely out of cell phone service. I say a little prayer as I follow my husband up over the top of a rim and lose sight of the girls.

This has become the norm, silently saying prayers and nervously waiting until the drive comes together and I see that everyone is alright. He drops me off one canyon over from the girls and he heads to the north fence. As I'm putting cattle together and starting them down my canyon I keep topping out to see if I can see the girls. It wasn't always like this, I used to never worry about not seeing them for a couple of hours because I was confident in their abilities and knew they knew where to go, but as the ever present danger of drug smugglers and illegal traffic increases I find myself more and more worried.

As the morning goes on, I continue to climb to the top of each peak hoping for a glimpse of the girls and scanning the horizon for anything that looks suspicious. Three hours later the drive has come together and for the first time, I take a deep breath when I hear the girls giggling and telling stories, long before I ever see them. Today was a short day and the gather came together quickly. We start back up the canyon toward the trucks and I'm reminded how blessed I am to live this amazing life and share this with my amazing family. The girls are telling me a story about a rattlesnake they saw and how they got chased by a cow that was "crazy." I silently say another prayer for keeping my family safe today.

This is just a glimpse into my life and what life is like trying to earn a living and raise a family on the southern NM border. Lawmakers and politicians don't understand the danger and can't understand why we continue to stay here. There's no use explaining something to someone that doesn't really WANT to understand. I'm going to keep telling my story and eventually the truth will come out. In the mean time, there are real people, real families, real mothers, just like me, raising families, making a living, helping neighbors and paying taxes on land our government won't protect.

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