FALFURRIAS - The governor of Texas has discouraged an Arizona civilian border patrol group from coming to Texas in October, but a half-dozen local ranchers and farmers say they may welcome the Minutemen.
During a tour of South Texas with an Arizona delegation Sunday, the ranchers said they're fed up with the destruction and occasional violence caused by illegal immigrants crossing their land. They said the problem has worsened in recent years, and they want to draw attention to the issue.
"Sometimes I wonder if the rest of the country understands what's happening on the border," said Fred Schuster, a vegetable farmer along the Rio Grande. "As someone who was born and raised here, I can say it is out of control."
Schuster, who says his wife wants to leave South Texas because of the turmoil, praised the work of the Minutemen....
Along the way, Schuster and a group of ranchers showed Simcox torn fences and the items left behind by illegal immigrants, including water jugs, baseball caps and a tiny pink tennis shoe that appeared to have been lost by a small girl.
The Texans began by asking some difficult questions of Simcox. They wondered how he felt about President Bush calling his group "vigilantes." And when Simcox talked about the need to have the military on the border, the ranchers pointed out that there were Marines on the Texas border briefly in the 1990s, until one of them mistakenly shot a Hispanic teen who was tending his family's goats.
"That'll take the wind out of your sails right there," said Presnall Cage of the Cage Ranch.
But Simcox said the one incident should not have caused the government to end the military patrols on the border. And he talked about how his group's patrol in Arizona diminished the flow of illegal immigrants near Tombstone, Ariz....
"We're going to shut down the routes one by one," he said.
The locals noted differences between Texas and Arizona. The problems in Texas are more dangerous because they are linked to the drug trade, they said.
South Texas also has a long history with Mexico. Most of the Texas ranchers speak Spanish, and some of them acknowledged that it used to be common to put the illegal immigrants to work.
But they said immigrants now are sometimes violent, and they worry especially about the increased presence of immigrants from other nations. The illegal immigrants beat up ranchhands, scare landowners, steal vehicles and break into homes, said Lavoyger Durham, one of the ranchers present....
Simcox argued that one of the best reasons to do civilian patrols is that it draws attention to the problems and prods the federal government into action: "If they don't want us to do the job, they had better get on the ball."