to send the Arizona National Guard to defend our Border? Governor are you awake?
Giffords hears out ranchers after death
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords talks to law enforcement officers and ranchers on Wednesday in Apache.
By Shar Porier, Sierra Vista Herald/Review
Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 10:09 AM MST
APACHE — “Listen to us. Take action. Don’t turn away.”
Former rancher Pam DiPeso of Pearce told Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Wednesday that residents in the San Bernardino Valley and along the eastern edge of Cochise County are haunted by the weekend murder of rancher Robert Krentz.
DiPeso said they are bothered that it would take a death before Washington showed interest in curbing the tide of illegal border crossers and drug runners.
“These people know what they’re talking about. They deserve to be heard,” DiPeso said.
Giffords made a trip to the valley to hear from ranchers and residents who live in the no-man’s land of a primitive, vast, yet strikingly beautiful terrain of rolling hills and steep ridges.
They want to make his tragedy a jumping off point for a better and safer border policy that protects citizens on the front lines of a war they say no one talks about.
Stella Brown of Elfrida came with a sign that read: “Foreign Invasion.” She has dealt firsthand with illegal border crossers at her home. She came home to find two people on her porch, which she called “frightening.” Though the men were not aggressive, she now fears for her safety and packs a firearm.
One family was afraid to give their names, saying the fear of drug cartel retribution is paramount in their minds. One young woman holding her 4-month-old girl told of just such a circumstance. Her neighbor called the Border Patrol on drug runners and his horses were stolen. A local veterinarian who offers services in Mexico said he had found the stud horse that he had tended to over the years in a Sonoran pasture.
What’s the answer?
How do you serve such a vast area with limited resources? The community’s answer was to send the National Guard with ammo in their guns. Keep the Border Patrol on the border, not 20 miles away sitting on the side of the road. Install operating stations on the border. Put up communication towers. Add patrols by county deputies. Make the ranches and homes safe enough to raise a family.
Their suggestions mirrored those of Giffords, who on Tuesday sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Obama asking for the immediate deployment of the National Guard to Arizona’s border with Mexico.
Other suggestions like permitting the National Guard and Border Patrol to shoot first and ask questions later may be out of the realm of possibility, Giffords said.
Rancher Kelly Glenn, a Krentz family friend, told Giffords and Border Patrol representatives: “We have begged for your support. Our home lies the closest to the border. The Border Patrol needs help. They need maps of the terrain, the paths, the roads. They need the power to defend themselves and the support of our legal system. They need to be on the border with the technology to back them up. There needs to be some focus on what’s happening here.”
Third-generation rancher Bill McDonald, another lifelong friend of Krentz, said: “I have heard about the war on drugs and sealing the border for as long as I can remember. I’ve never felt more at risk in my life. This is a bad situation.”
Giffords told the huge crowd, “You have the right to live on your property and do your work without fear.”
Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth, a Republican, informed the gathering, “There are fewer Border Patrol agents working the border than there are police officers in New York City. This is a clear and present danger. The military as well as the National Guard should be deployed here.”