By Thomas G. Tancredo
They started out ranching, and that is a difficult task in and of itself. But, after generations in that particular industry and living in the same area on the border of Mexico, living in Arizona, many of the people who reside there are now living in what, I think, can be accurately described as a war zone. Every week I have been bringing to the U.S. House of Representatives the names and pictures of those people that I want to induct into this Homeland Heroes Hall of Fame.
Tonight, I want to talk about Rob and Sue Krentz, who own and operate a ranch located on the far southeastern corner of Arizona, about 12 miles north of the U.S./Mexico border and 25 miles northeast of the city of Douglas. They are third-generation ranchers. This ranch has been in their family since 1907.
Rob and Susie Krentz have three children they raised on that ranch. Their two sons, Andrew and Frank, attend New Mexico State University, and their daughter, Kyle, is a high school senior.
The Krentz family story is similar in many ways to the experiences of hundreds of other ranchers in this border region. Yet, to them and their children it, is unique and it is personal and dreadful in the impact it has had on their lives and the future viability of their way of life as ranchers.
Just one tiny statistic begins to tell the story of what these folks face every single day. In the month of November, 2002, in the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, which includes Cochise County, where the Krentz ranch is located, the Border Patrol appre- hended 23,000 border crossers.
That was in the month of November. It is anybody's guess as to how many people actually come across, but many, many people would suggest that the ratio is just about maybe one in five, and that is a very conservative estimate, that, for every one person we apprehend on the border, at least five get through. Again, I think it is closer to one in ten, but I will accept even this very, very conservative estimate, that, for every one we get at the border apprehended, five go by them.
This means that, in just the month of November near this ranch and over their property, when we had 23,000 apprehended, using the conservative estimate of one to five, it meant that 115,000 people crossed the border illegally. We are just talking about one little chunk of the border, the Tucson Sector.
That means that, if we project that out over the course of a year, 1,300,000 people come across that border in that sector. I guarantee that is a conservative estimate, but let us use it. Every month, approximately one million three hundred thousand people are coming across that border and coming across the lands of the people that live there, including the Krentz family.
I had the opportunity to spend some time down there just a few weeks ago, and I can attest to the fact that, on any given evening, one can watch dozens and dozens of illegal aliens trespassing across the land. The Krentz family will call the U.S. Border Patrol to come and intercept them. Sometimes the Border Patrol will come; sometimes they will not.
Mr. Krentz estimates that, over the past 5 years, his family has suffered a loss of at least $300,000 a year due to cut fences, stolen and damaged vehicles and farm equip- ment, and damage to the rangeland itself. This is very, very delicate land. It is desert land--something that has to be conserved and protected. When there are 1,300,000 trespassers coming across the land every year, it is not being conserved and protected. The land is being destroyed.
The Krentz ranch has 1,000 head of cattle. The continual movement of people across that domain constantly disturbs the livestock, impacting their own value, and sometimes somethings happen that are even worse. In February of last year, for instance, a calf was butchered by illegal alien trespassers. Two men responsible were caught. They were tried. They were found guilty. They served a total of 51 days in jail. They were also or- dered to pay $200 in restitution to the Krentz ranch. The Krentz ranch has not seen a cent of that money; and, of course, our best guess is they will not because these people have been released. They either came back into the population up here in the U.S.A. or returned to Mexico.
These losses, which are estimated in the neighborhood of $300,000, include damage to and disease-producing microorganisms in the water tanks and waterlines on their ranch. The family and their employees cannot drink out of the water tanks any longer because of the disease that happens to be in the water on the land--disease brought in by illegal alien trespassers--and the damage done by purposeful, deliberate vandalism on the part of the trespassers.
The estimated value of the water that has been lost on their property to date is $4 million. In June of 2002, the Krentz brothers discovered two separate instances of damaged waterlines. Illegal aliens had broken the two-inch PBC waterline in order to get drinking water. The Krentz ranch waterline runs for 40 miles and is one of the best gravity-flow waterlines in the State of Arizona. Because of these two breaks in the long pipeline, several hundred thousand gallons of precious water were wasted.
The Krentz family continually has to deal with threats, physical threats, from illegal border crossers. Recently, a family member came upon a group of 39 trespassers and was threatened by them, when he asked them to turn around and get off his land. He returned home, called the Border Patrol, and they did come and apprehend them. But we both know what happens is they put them into a revolving door near the border and, in a few days or in a few hours, many times they are coming right back across the border.
The Krentz family members are not vigilantes. They do not try to apprehend illegal aliens by force. They do not carry arms for their own protection. They will always call the Border Patrol when they observe trespassers. They and the other ranchers are trying to follow the law and work with the Border Patrol, and all they want from their own government is to enforce the law as well as to protect them and their property, and that is what we owe them. They are only asking the minimum from their own government, that it protect their lives and property from people coming across the border illegally. The Krentz family members are asking the government to protect them from this invasion by illegal aliens.
And there are no two ways about it. "Invasion" is an appropriate word to use to describe what is happening on our borders, especially on our southern border. It is an invasion, and the Krentz family and other ranchers on land near and adjacent to the border are asking their government to protect them from that invasion.
I want to salute Rob and Susie Krentz and Phil and Carrie Krentz as homeland heroes who are bearing the brunt of an invasion of over a million illegal aliens crossing our southern border. We need to understand their plight. We have a moral obligation to do something about it.
Now, I would like to talk about another aspect of the issue of illegal immigration.
Massive immigration into this country, combined with a pernicious multiculturalist atti- tude and philosophy in this country is a cocktail mix of dangerous components. One of these components, the one part of this picture that I am going to focus on at this time, is the issue of our national security, the threat that exists to the United States of America as a result of the fact that our borders are porous and that people can and do cross them at will.
There was a time when the United States of America could be seen as somewhat naive, and because we were protected by two oceans, we felt that the world was a place of gen- eral safety for us and that we really did not have to be too concerned about our borders. There had always been illegal immigration into the United States, but, until the contem- porary era, it had never reached a level that posed a threat to the nation's existence.
It now has reached that level, not just because of the fact that we have far more aliens legally coming across our borders and into our seaports and airports than ever before in the nation's history--people who come here legally, but then overstay their visas, aliens comprising about 40 percent of the maybe 13 to 20 million aliens who illegally entered this country to begin with--but also because of the massive flow of illegal aliens across our porous and insecure borders. The southern border alone is a place of enormous ille- gal immigration. The numbers are just staggering.
What is very, very worrisome is that, in the last several years, there has not just been an increase in the number of Mexican nationals coming across the border, but there has been an alarming number of people who are classified as OTM, i.e., "other than Mexi- can,'' coming across our border, coming from all over the world. This phenomenon has been observed and has been noted by the Border Patrol, and they have talked about it. They have indicated that there is a change going on and that this is a strange situation because, all of a sudden, through that southern border with Mexico and through our northern border with Canada, we are seeing people come from many Middle Eastern countries, from Asian countries, and from South America, specifically from a place called the "tri-border region."
The tri-border region is an area that is really the borders of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, and there is a very large group of Muslims in that area, a very large Muslim population in that area.
Over the last decade or so, without much attention being paid to it, there has been an enormous increase in the number of Muslims living in South America, and even in Cana- da. Millions of Muslims live in the tri-border area of South America. It has become a place through which we are now seeing a great number of people transiting from Middle Eastern countries into Brazil, getting Brazilian documents, then coming north into the United States through Mexico.
When we intercept them, we chalk them down as Brazilian. But we are finding that they are not really Brazilian. For the most part, they are Middle Easterners coming from places throughout the Middle East. Brazil is a very eclectic country. It is a place where it is difficult to look at someone and say, you are from Brazil. It is not that easy. So people who are Middle Eastern can easily be characterized as Brazilian, especially if they are carrying Brazilian passports and Brazilian papers.
But we have had this enormous increase in the last couple of years of Brazilians inter- cepted at the boarders. It is up in the thousands.
Our Border Patrol people are saying, what is this all about? How come we are seeing so many people from this area? It is because that is the area that actually provides the funnel from the Middle East through South America up into the United States across the Mexican border.
As a matter of fact, there is a statement relating to this matter--a statement that I think is certainly worthy of my quoting from. The statement comes from the National Commission on Terrorism, which was established in the year 2000. Here is the quote: "The massive flows of people across the U.S. borders make exclusion of all foreign terrorists impossible.''
Now, this is not an amazing quote, not a very profound quote, but it is something we should pay attention to and be concerned about. This was a commission established to look into the issue of terrorism. What they are essentially saying is that, because so many millions of people are coming across our borders illegally, we cannot possibly hope to defend ourselves from terrorists coming into the United States.
Is that not an incredible statement, when you think of it? On the one hand, it is com- pletely logical. It is certainly truthful. We all know that is true, because the "massive flows of people across the U.S. borders make the exclusion of all foreign terrorists im- possible."
What are we going to do about it? What kind of a challenge does this pose to us? This is a NCT statement issued in the year 2000. This is before 9/11, remember. So, this particular statement, along with the entire Commission report, as far as I know, was tossed into File 13, because no one wants to hear this. No one wants to deal with this. No one in the Congress, and no one in the administration, really wants to tackle this issue.
However, we must deal with the issue. We must do something about the problem. We must try to stop illegal aliens from coming across our borders. Defending our borders with our military is absolutely necessary. Any country on the face of this Earth would do so in these circumstances. Any sane policy would tell us that, if we are going to be fight- ing wars halfway around the world, and we are doing it today with the new kind of threat we face, it is not just the war on the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan, or other foreign countries which we have to be worried about, that it is also the internal security and safe- ty of United States of America, the homeland, we have to be worried about, and simply creating a Department of Homeland Security does not, in fact, create a defense of the homeland and ensure its security and safety.
It may create the illusion of a secure and well-defended homeland by the new depart- ment's name, but that is it. There is no way that the Department of Homeland Security, funded at the levels that are anticipated, could possibly deal with the problem described in this one statement: "The massive flows of people across the United States border make it impossible to exclude terrorists.''
The people in the Department of Homeland Security can not deal with it. They need technology. We need the military. We need the military on the border. Maybe, at some time in the future, we will have a homeland defense and security agency that is very com- petent and technically advanced, an agency effectivelt using the best kind of monitoring devices and cameras, and even the low-tech stuff called walls and fences. Yes, walls and fences! You know, we actually can employ that low-tech type of device to stop a lot of what is happening here.
But we will not even do that, and the reason is because we do not want to stop illegal immigration. That is the dirtiest little secret that passes around this place periodically: We do not wish to stop illegal immigration. That is the U.S. government's policy. For a variety of reasons, the government's real policy is to allow that flow of illegal aliens into the U.S.A. to continue.
On one side we have a major American political party, the Democratic Party, that sees that flow of illegal aliens as a source of support for their party. Democratic Party politi- cians figure that eventually the illegal aliens' descendants born in the U.S.A. (and thefore U.S. citizens) will become supporters of the Democratic Party. That party's leaders & activists are not offbase in their figuring, since U.S. political history and tradition have certainly proven that immigrants and immigrant offspring gaining U.S. citizenship (by nationalization or birth), at least for a generation or so, tend to vote Democratic. So the leaders and activists of the Democratic Party see illegal immigration into the U.S.A. as a source of future support of their party and its candidates for government office.
The Democrats also, of course, have to cater to a very strong minority group within their own party that wants open borders, a faction that actually wants illegal immigration into the U.S.A. to continue unabated.
On our side, in the other major American political party, the Republican Party, we also have a problem. We Republicans have a problem because, unfortunately, there are a lot of people who look at illegal immigration as a source of cheap labor. I certainly hear from a lot of folks who tell me all the time that they would not be able to open their busi- ness--their dry cleaning establishment, their restaurant, their hotel, etc.--unless they had illegal aliens working for them.
This is amazing. In the March 25, 2003, issue of the Denver newspaper, I read an arti- cle about a job fair, a job fair held in Denver over the weekend of March 22-23. Some- thing like 6,000 people attended. There were maybe 400 jobs available. Six thousand people attended, maybe 400 jobs were available.
But I hear from people all the time that tell me they simply cannot hire any "American willing to do the work.'' I have a neighbor who has been unemployed for over a year. He was at first employed in the high-tech industry, being a very, very competent individual and holding very significant job with a very good salary. He then became unemployed. The high tech industry, everybody knows what is happening to it. Right now, my neighbor is doing data entry work and driving a limo to try to keep food on the table and feed his family aa well as to keep a roof over their heads. I hear all the time that we do not have Americans who will do these jobs, these other jobs.
There was another article in the Denver newspaper not too long ago that talked about the fact that one restaurant, the Luna Restaurant, a Mexican restaurant on 38th and about Lowell, put an ad in the paper for a $3-an-hour waiter position. On the first day, they had 600 applicants for that one job. Imagine that, six hundred applicants for one job at $3 an hour! Are all 600 of those applicants illegal aliens? I do not think so.
I think there are a lot of American citizens who want those jobs. I think right now there are many American citizens who are in job competition with those illegal immigrants coming in across the border. However, employers, in fact, want to pay people less. That is natural. Unfortunately, many employers want to unfairly exploit their employees. We see accounts of this happening all the time. So, they want illegal immigration, they want porous borders. They do not want anybody stopping their flow, even if this means that it is something that could pose a serious danger to this country, and it does pose a serious danger to the nation.
It is a very immediate danger. When you cannot distinguish at the border--and no one can make such a distinction--between a job seeker and a terrorist, the massive flow of illegal aliens into the country is an immediate as well as longterm danger. Nobody has shown me a way to distinguish between that illegal immigrant coming in who is just com- ing to do the job no one else wants to do--one who wants to be a restaurant worker or whatever--and an enemy infiltrator coming in with the intent to commit acts of terror and destruction inside the U.S.A. No one can determine by just looking at these people what they are coming for. You can't say: "That one looks like he is just looking for a job, but that one over there, he looks like he might be coming to do something really bad.''
You cannot tell. You have to secure the borders and have everybody coming into this country legally, through a process that allows us to identify them, find out what they are coming in for, how long they are going to be here and for what purpose, and find out when they leave. You need internal enforcement in the United States of our immigration laws to make this thing work.
Not only do we need to use the military to secure our borders, but we also have to have the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) using its resources inside the country to identify people who are here illegally and remove them.
Thomas G. Tancredo is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Sixth Congressional District of Colorado.
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