Posted: Sep 4, 2012 5:35 PM
Updated: Sep 5, 2012 12:06 AM
WESLACO - A series of videos produced by the Texas Department of Agriculture will show federal officials the precarious status of border security, state officials said.
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said his office must handle security along with many other agriculture requirements of the state.
Brooks County rancher Linda Vickers appears on one of the videos speaking about the need to pack a mobile phone and a gun.
"I'm looking for rattlesnakes and illegals," she said.
"My husband calls it an invasion. ... I've looked out here and seen a group of 13 going past. I've sat on my back porch and a group of 10 go past. It does feel like and invasion," Vickers said.
Rio Grande Valley farmers and ranchers also say the cartels are taking over their lands.
"It's going on in the back of your mind when you come down here. How is it going to be? What's going on over that levee? What's going to be happening?" Mission farmer Paul Heller said.
Staples said drug and human smugglers are terrorists.
"We have a true crisis when land owners in the United States of America cannot freely use their property," Staples said during a telephone interview.
"They have been pleading to the federal government to help them live their lives in peace, yet we're told that the border is safer now than ever," Staples said.
"I got on top of the pump facility. You could see in the river three separate boats from three different directions with multiple people all crossing at the same time, landing in three different places," said Othal Brand Jr., with the Hidalgo County Water District.
"We have no law enforcement role nor do we want one. But yet we have an obligation and responsibility when farmers and ranchers come to me as their commissioner of agriculture and they say, ‘we're being chased off our land and our federal government is turning their back on us,'" Staples said.
Staples said the federal government should send more National Guard troops, more Border Patrol agents and more money for local police departments. He also wants better ports of entry and a wider set of rules for law enforcement to go after cartel activity.
"These cartels are not fighting over a hill-top view to build a home. They're fighting over access routes across our border, into Texas and into America," Staples said.