On Friday, Arizona State Representative Bob Thorpe and Susan Tully, National Field Director for FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) visited ranchers along the Mexico/U.S. border to see for themselves the situation with which the residents contend every day. The two covered a vast expanse of border land in Arizona.
Bob Thorpe (Flagstaff)is working on legislation that would address the executive orders and regulations that have made ranching difficult in the western states, and living along the border a dangerous prospect. Thorpe has also been active in bringing attention to the plight of unaccompanied minors brutally trafficked by cartels in response to the Obama administration’s executive order on illegal immigration.
Tully, an expert in immigration accompanied Thorpe on the fact finding mission. Tully has been working on immigration for the past 14 years after she discovered, as an ordinance enforcement official in Southern California, that American workers were being displaced by cheap foreign labor. Focusing on the country’s limited resources, and the plight of the American worker, FAIR’s goal is to curb illegal immigration.
Thorpe and Tully appeared on the popular southern Arizona James T. Harris radio show before and after their border visit. Tully told Harris that she and Thorpe were able to verify that students were crossing the border to attend American schools. “Yes sir, we got a chance to verify that, and it is true. In fact, the numbers that came across this morning, were according to Border Patrol – and this is Naco – so this is a very small port of entry – those numbers are right around 80 to 100 – just in Naco. So just imagine Douglas,” said Tully referring to another larger port, “go down the border from San Diego to the end of Texas. How big is this? I don’t know – 80 to 100.”
Tully explained that she and Thorpe “watched them line-up. They wouldn’t let us take pictures because it is a federal facility, so we were not able to do that. Beautiful little children, spoke wonderful English, had to show their passport cards or birth certificates, to come through. Children [some of who may have been]born in America, but live in Mexico – out of district- out of the country – United States taxpayers are paying for them.”
Tully questioned why the American taxpayers are paying for the education of children who do not live in the country and do not contribute to the Arizona tax base through property or other taxes. “They don’t live in the United States,” she told Harris. “If their families lived in the United States, were paying property tax or at least income tax and all the other things like everybody else, who receives services here, it would be a whole different story, but that is not the case.”
Tully told Harris that right behind the Naco port is a small elementary school. “Some of those kids just walk to that school. Others walk about three blocks away, get on the bus with all the kids who live in Naco on the American side, and go to the high school.”
“The other thing that I think was frightening to all of us that were there was the fact that they do not check their backpacks. Now, what are the chances that they could be carrying drugs for the drug cartels. Who knows? The Customs agents said ‘No, we would be able to tell by looking at them. We see the same kids every day – they would act differently.'”
Tully asked, “What if the kids don’t even know they are carrying drugs that someone put in there?” Tully noted that the kids’ bags are not checked by K-9s or x-rayed. “They just ask for identification and they walk through.”
According to Thorpe, “The cost to local, state and Federal taxpayers is at least $9,000 per student, but could exceed $20,000 each. So the relatively small number of Naco students is costing taxpayers between $900,000 – $2,000,000 annually. Multiply that against all the thousands of students entering through the eleven (11) other, much larger ports of entry within Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. These foreign students, who are ineligible for taxpayer-funded U.S. education, may be taking valuable, limited resources away from our American children, and defrauding U.S. taxpayers.”
Thorpe told Harris that the CBP officials treated the fact-finding group like “gold. Some people give the feds a bad rap,” said Thorpe, but the Naco CBP agents were very friendly and helpful.
Thorpe told Harris that the group met with ranchers, “who live this life every day – dealing with illegal immigration problems along the border, that and not having a secure border.” Thorpe mentioned the fact that the group visited a ranch near Naco that stretches all along the border, and a ranch north of the border in the Douglas area, and met with a rancher who shared “some pretty harrowing stories about the problems they had over the years.”
Based on their visit Thorpe said, “We need to get the governor involved. The governor has talked about having a fast response strike force including DPS that could go down and try to deal with the problems with the drug traffickers, but you know – it is interesting – when you talk to the ranchers – they told us an interesting story. When you go back five or ten years you might be seeing groups of 50 or 100, or 150 people coming across – coyotes bringing these human traffickers across – now you see the really bad guys. The folks that are in cammo, some with automatic weapons, bringing over bales of drugs, coming through peoples’ property, coming into peoples’ homes, stealing vehicles, shooting people – it is the wild west down there.”
One couple in particular, who discussed their history with the cartels to Thorpe, mentioned how they had been gone for only a few hours to discover that the back door to their house was opened, and entered to find that they had been robbed and found pile of dirty socks in their living room. And of course, their socks had been stolen from their clothes drawers.
“We are talking primarily about the federal government. They, said Thorpe referring to the ranchers, “want to feel that the federal government has got their back and is concerned about them, and protecting them, and listening to them. They want to feel – and this is the kicker – that when the federal government reports stories and talks to them – they are telling the local people the truth. I remember growing up watching Superman – truth, justice, and the American way – that might be pretty cliché these days,” said Thorpe, “but I am not sure that these folks living along the border are getting truth or justice, and I am not sure what the American way is when it comes to these people, and how they are living their lives.”
Thorpe, a soft-spoken representative known for understatement, told Harris that while he was meeting with the ranchers, he sent a text message to the governor’s staff, “and basically said that the governor needs to have a conversation with these folks, who are living on the border – on the front lines – and so I am hoping that is something we can arrange.”
“Many of us are very concerned about radical Islam, and what would be our government’s response. And then you look at our border and they haven’t done that great a job of keeping the cartels at bay – the traffickers at bay,” said Thorpe. “They make lofty promises about protecting us from radical Islam that is the same government whose promises are falling kind of short.”
Thorpe says it is “déjà vu all over again. It’s just like Viet Nam all over…” said Thorpe. “The bureaucrats need to get out of the way and stop micro-managing our front-line border officials and neutering their rules of engagement.”