In the past, ranchers like Lawrence Hurt, who live along the U.S. Mexico border, have looked to lend a helping hand to those crossing illegally into the country in desperate need of food and water. Now, because of the significant risks, the ranchers keep their distance and look to try avoiding any run-ins whenever possible.
Hurt, of the Hurt Cattle Company, spoke recently at the “Calling Washington Home to the Border” event on March 10 in Animas, New Mexico. Hurt explained that the ranchers have been abused and harassed by the illegals coming across the border. Theft, arson and grand theft auto are just a few of the crimes committed against them. Still, they did not turn away from those in need.
One incident in particular changed everything for Hurt and his family. In 1989, Hurt’s brother was approached by Mexican Federal Police at gunpoint. The men were apparently guarding a marijuana field just beyond the border. Hurt said that if his brother “made one false move and it would have cost him his life.”
“Over the years we’ve seen many people come across the border looking for a job, and we always try to help them. Give them food, water, assistance; whatever we could. As a result of recent incidents we have had, as well as the other people here, we keep our distance now. We are never sure what they are up to and what people are coming along. The increase in the number of people that are smuggling people and drugs are increasing,” Hurt stated. “We are seeing less of the people here looking for a job.”
With the foot and vehicle traffic through the ranches it is common that fences and gates are found damaged. Border Patrol agents are normally not close enough to do anything to help. With some ranches almost an hour to three hours away from law enforcement now that the agents have been moved off of the border. “We would like to see them on the border,” stated Hurt.
“We understand that there is a problem with access. There are not good roads along the border and it would take some doing, but I think that there is a possibility to patrol the places with easier access,” said Hurt sympathetically. He suggested putting in some roads into the less accessible areas. “The need for them being on the border is imperative to our safety because if we stop them at the line we are not going to have as many incidents as we had in the past,” argued Hurt.
All the problems facing those living on the ranches won’t disappear overnight, but the overnight trekking of illegals that destroy their property and steal their belongings must be stopped. According to Hurt, the message is simple; return the agents to the border – preferably on horseback.
“Calling Washington Home to the Border” series: