Surge at the border: protecting U.S. soil

Brooks County, Texas is a large ranching area near the Mexican border. The sheriff tells us that it is “ground zero” for the immigration crisis.

According to Sheriff Benny Martinez, “A lot are into livestock and that turns into the hunting phase of it also.”

He says that there is a lot of immigrant traffic on these ranchers some even have a beacon where immigrants can find information on where to get help in English and Spanish.

“Currently, what smugglers are doing, they’re just driving through, which means they’re cutting fences, and when they cut fences or they cut gate locks... So, they’ll travel right through it,” Martinez states.

The Brooks County Sheriff’s Office is now home to a sea of vehicles, largely seized from smugglers. It shows how much of an issue it is. Sheriff Martinez tells us it is hard to stay on top of the enormous amount of immigrant traffic ranchers have on their properties.

“Are we behind them, or ahead of them? So, we definitely need to get ahead of them,” he states. “So, with technology that’s applied, at times, we’re able to get ahead of them... we can intercept and interdict them, but they’re driving through now-- maybe two trucks at a time.”

Dr. Mike Vickers, a local rancher, tells us there has been a technology that has developed in the last ten years that has made it even easier for smugglers to walk immigrants through the ranchers and harder for law enforcement.

“Now, all these groups can get through, they’ve got a cell phone. They’ve got navigation in the cell phone. So, they can just about guide themselves through this country without a coyote,” Dr. Vickers explains.

Also, the smugglers are getting bolder and braver with ranchers.

“We have had hunters, we have had ranchers that have come across them. Know, we had an incident when one rancher pretty much got pushed and the rancher was smart enough to just, not so much backdown, but he guarded himself to where they just got back into trucks and they left... It might get to a point where they want to protect themselves because now they feel threatened because they’re getting more aggressive. So, it could get to a point where there could be shorts fired,” Sheriff Martinez states.

Now, one major issue with these ranches is that they are wide open spaces. That makes it very difficult for law enforcement.

The sheriff says that the massive size of these ranchers makes some smugglers, at times, forget what country they are in.

“They seem like they’re in Mexico. This is their area now, and that’s not so. This is the U.S. soil and we’re going to protect that,” Martinez adds.

He says that the ranchers themselves want to protect America.


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