A Wall Street Journal article from guest columnist Leo Banks (Tuscon Weekly) captures the fear for personal safety among residents of the Southwest border. Last week, Banks' visited a service for Arizona rancher Robert Krentz who was recently killed on his property by a suspected illegal alien, and he said that the issue of illegal immigration is different from most Americans.
Americans who do not live along the Mexican border often assume the antipathy to illegal immigration arises from racial or cultural concerns. But talk to people on the ground, and what they fear most is the loss of personal security. They are angry that the federal government is unable to provide them with this most basic of human rights.
The area near the Krentz' ranch is one of the well known drug smuggling routes. Robert Krentz' wife, Sue Krentz, has petitioned the government several times for an increase in patrol of the area.
[Sue] has written pleading letters to politicians, media and others, detailing how the smuggling of drugs and people has become so bad that family members feared for their lives.
"It's worse than anybody knows," rancher Ed Ashurst told me. "There are outlaws roaming around with guns, and if you jack with them they'll kill you."
Krentz' sister, Susan Pope lives 46 miles from the Mexican border and talked about her fears caused by illegal immigration.
[They] lock their valuables in a safe before taking morning horseback rides. They've had three break-ins. According to Susan, the one-room school in Apache where she is a teacher and bus driver has been broken into so often there's nothing left worth stealing. "Americans shouldn't have to live like this," she told me.
Other residents in the border area are doing their best to arm themselves since the federal government is unwilling to do so.
In a Douglas gun shop after the shooting, I watched customers stream in to buy safes and pistols. Even bird-watching ladies from Portal are arming up—they see the threat clearly and understand they face it alone.
The spectacle reminded me of the comment Barack Obama made during the presidential campaign about bitter, small town Americans clinging to guns and religion. Now his administration is reducing Border Patrol's budget, cutting the number of agents, and denying requests for more vehicles and equipment. The disconnect between Washington's priorities and the border lawlessness creates a sense of abandonment here, leaving many to feel that yes, God and guns are what they have left.
In a blog last week, Roy talked about what he's seen on several trips to the Southwest border and the injustice of the federal government leaving U.S. citizens along the border vulnerable to violence. There are faxes on your Action Board, urging your three Members of Congress, Pres. Obama, and DHS Janet Napolitano to secure the borders.
Updated: Tue, Apr 13th 2010 @ 10:12am EDT