What was once a tranquil, pristine cattle ranch of 10,000 acres near the U.S./Mexican border is in serious trouble. The Davis cattle ranch – in our family since 1867 – has been overwhelmed by a constant flow of illegal alien border crossings and people who are turning the land into a very stressful, sometimes dangerous place to live.
Thousands of illegal border crossers who are encouraged to enter the U.S. due to lax enforcement policies and various amnesty programs are threatening our way of life and inflicting great damage to our borderlands.
In the 1970s, there were only a few illegal crossers each year. By the 1990s and today, daily illegal crossings easily number in the hundreds. In addition, the attitudes of the illegal aliens entering our country have shifted dramatically over the years and not in a good way. Some illegal aliens crossing over our ranch are much more confrontational now. A few have been aggressive, even threatening to my family.
What’s worse, these illegal border crossers make ranching a far more difficult, dangerous and expensive way of life. We have been forced to rebuild or replace hundreds of miles of fence that illegal aliens cut while crossing. When illegal crossers cut fences, cattle and horses often wander into the wrong pastures, increasing their exposure to diseases transmitted between herds. My family once had an extensive breeding program ruined because our fences were routinely cut.
Illegal border crossers have also damaged our windmills and water tanks, sometimes beyond repair. Once, they drained our water tanks of 10,000 gallons of water leaving our livestock without water during the hottest month of the year. That act of vandalism cost the lives of valuable livestock.
The relentless trampling of the land by illegal border crossers has caused permanent environmental damage. Many illegal aliens crossing over native grasslands follow the same paths beaten over time by previous crossers. In those places, the grasses are gone. There are now eleven separate paths near our house and we estimate sixty percent of the grasses have disappeared.
In addition, native plants on our property, such as the Soaptree Yucca cactus, which can grow to be 12 feet high, Century Plant, barrel cactus, and the Mesquite tree have been trampled by drug cartels crossing in their vehicles. Many of these plants are protected – we ourselves would be violating the law if we removed these native plants from our property. Yet these plants – which take 6 to 8 years to grow – are destroyed without consequence by a relentless flow of illegal aliens.
My family and I have picked up every form of trash imaginable - plastic bottles, blankets, food wrappers, clothing, backpacks, diapers, pregnancy tests, hypodermic needles, cellphones, and chargers. Human feces are found in abundance. Tons of garbage are left each year by illegal border crossers, far too much trash to remove on a continuing basis. The trash is even more of a health hazard to livestock. We have found several full grown cows dead with entire blankets inside them. Cows will also eat plastic bags, causing an excruciating death.
Most people don’t realize how the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adopted policies in 2011 through 2014 to dismantle border enforcement. These policy changes protected large classes of illegal aliens from immigration enforcement agents. DHS also adopted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012. This policy outright gave work permits to classes of illegal aliens.
DHS never did any analysis about whether these policies, once adopted, might adversely impact the environment. Many believe that DHS is violating federal law by adopting discretionary policies with no environmental impact analysis whatsoever. These actions have a real, harmful, ongoing impact on our land and the entire U.S border.
This has been a long, tough struggle for me and my family. We have contemplated selling the ranch, despite our generational ties to the land we love. But ranches far from the Mexican border are worth much more than land impacted by illegal alien traffic. It would be nearly impossible to sell and relocate - we simply can’t afford it. I also can’t stand the thought of illegal aliens, who have no right to be here at all, driving me and my family from our home.
Ranching is not a job – it’s our heritage, our passion, our way of life. Our home has been in our family since before Arizona was a state. I am proud of how we provide food for America and the world and how we’ve raised our children to have strong family values, respect for the land, and a solid work ethic. It is a lifestyle that produces strong adults.
I have always hoped my children, grandchildren, and future generations would continue this fine tradition. Sadly, my dream, my hope for my family is in jeopardy.
For this reason I, along with several other individuals and groups, have joined a lawsuit filed by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) in the US District Court for the Southern District of California against the DHS for ignoring its responsibility to American citizens to protect our border and enforce our immigration laws. To find out more about the lawsuit, visit www.irli.org/nepa.
The next president must reverse present policies and empower the DHS to secure the United States’ southern border. Our next president has a clear choice: either stem the flow of illegal aliens into our country, defend our nation and protect our lands, or allow one historic aspect of America’s heritage to disappear forever.
Also published at: Fred Davis, I Own A Ranch In Arizona - Illegal Immigrants Are Destroying The Land And Killing The Livestock, Independent Journal Review, Nov. 2, 2016