From Hugh Holub at The Tuscon Citizen.
My name is Jim Chilton. I am a 5th generation Arizona rancher. My address is Box 423, 17691 W. Chilton Ranch Road, Arivaca, Arizona 85601. Arivaca is approximately 55 miles southwest of Tucson, Arizona in native mesquite and oak grassland grazed for over 300 years since the explorer priest Fr. Kino brought cattle ranching to the area. The north end of our 50,000-acre ranch is adjacent to the town of Arivaca. The ranch continues south to the international border with Mexico. The ranch includes private property, State School Trust land, three federal grazing permits within the Coronado National Forest and a private land farm.
We have been in the cattle business in Arizona for over 125 years preserving our western ranching customs, culture and heritage dating back to our pioneering ancestors who settled in Arizona Territory in the 1880’s. Our multi-generational responsibility has given us a long-term view of the necessity to be excellent stewards of the grasslands and water resources we respectfully manage in Arizona. The Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association presented me with the Cattleman of the Year award in 2002.
However, we are challenged by the fact that 4 miles of the southern boundary of our ranch is the international border. The border is not signed or marked and consists of a five-strand barbed wire fence similar to most ranch fences. Our ranch house and headquarters are located 19 miles from the border. We have been burglarized twice by drug packers on their way back to Mexico. Our losses have been great and our sense of security in our own country has been severely damaged. We live with weapons near our bed, at the doors, in our vehicles and attached to our saddles. . .
Another serious concern facing border ranchers and residents of border communities is that criminals engaged in human and drug transportation find it convenient to use Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness areas as easy corridors to hide and travel. My fellow rancher, Rob Krentz, was murdered with the killer escaping back to Mexico through the San Bernardino National Refuge. Emphatically, we oppose the designation of any and all new Wilderness Areas, Wildlands or Refuges within 100 miles of the southern border. Such designations are virtual gifts to Mexican drug cartels.
In addition, the Border Patrol must have the ability to immediately construct helicopter landing pads on mountain tops and any other locations so that Mexican cartel scouts occupying mountain tops inside the United States can be easily and quickly rooted out. Waiting for months or years for NEPA analysis, Endangered Species Act concerns and slow federal land management decisions is not compatible with the Border Patrol mission to CONTROL THE BORDER AT THE BORDER.
Unfortunately, Mexican cartel scouts, with the best binoculars, night vision and encrypted satellite phones, have been found to occupy the tops of mountains near our ranch headquarters and other locations all along the border and dozens of miles inside Arizona. As a consequence, the foreign cartel scouts know where the Border Patrol is located at all times and can then carefully guide the druggers and people smugglers through the mountains and valleys without being spotted. Not only do the scouts know where the Border Patrol is at all times, but they can observe me, my brother and our three cowboys riding horseback conducting our daily ranch work. Our houses are also easily monitored from mountains surrounding our headquarters. The cartel scouts must be immediately taken out of action by force if the border is to be secured.
I have an acquaintance who is a retired federal worker whose house has been burglarized 10 times by illegal border crossers on their way back to Mexico after having dumped their drug loads. We have been burglarized twice with serious losses. Many of our neighbors have suffered similar loss of security and property. Most all ranchers in the border area can not leave their houses since experience demonstrates that their homes will certainly be broken into if someone is not there. The Border Patrol must CONTROL THE BORDER AT THE BORDER so that citizens’ civil rights, property rights and human rights are protected. Ranchers along the border can not have peace of mind until the border is secured.