Cyndi's Two Cents

Border crisis needs attention


News headlines in recent days, weeks, months and years have centered around our country’s southern border. Illegal immigration, which by definition is the migration of people into a country in violation of the immigration laws of that country or the continued residence without the legal right to live in that country, is, put simply, a big deal for border states and increasingly for all of America.

We’ve all seen and heard the reports of the Texas border counties overrun with record numbers of “migrants” crossing the U.S. -Mexico border and the inability of border towns to handle the influx of people. In recent days, I’ve seen the reports of human smugglers and a tomato shipment that turned out to be 13 kilos of fentanyl. I’ve seen story after story of drugs being brought into our country, of the “coyotes” who smuggle people across the border. The migrants pay coyotes a fee to guide them into California, Arizona or Texas.

Cartels engaged in producing and selling methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl practice racketeering, bribery and extortion. These cartels are ruthless, murderous and unflinching. Many of the people attempting to cross our country’s southern border are running away from the violence they have experienced in Mexico and Central America. There are single men and women traveling alone and in groups. There are elderly grandmothers and grandfathers, families with teenagers, toddlers and babies, and in very small numbers, unaccompanied minors all seeking a better and safer life in these United States of America.

Many of those innocents from Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Cuba, Columbia and Venezuela attempting to cross into the U.S. see no other choice than become a mule or a courier and personally smuggle contraband across the border. Doing so, they are not so innocent anymore. Many of the people crossing or attempting to cross into the United States illegally work for the cartels by choice. Violent, aggressive thieves, rapists and murderers are among those who find their way across the border.

According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there were 206,239 reported encounters with migrants at the U.S. – Mexico border in November of 2022 and 221,675 encounters in December of 2022. Those are actual encounters, not the total number of people who came into this country illegally and undetected by the border patrol or other law enforcement.

American agriculture does need a migrant workforce. I know people who utilize the H-2A temporary agricultural program allowing them to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to their farms for specific ag labor for a temporary or seasonal nature when they are unable to find Americans willing to do the work. Several of my friends have seasonal workers from South Africa who come to their Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa farms during the corn and soybean growing season. The bonds developed between farmer and laborer are strong, not unlike you might have with extended family.

America is a melting pot. Unless your ancestors are Native American, your family tree is rooted in another country. There should be a workable process for legal immigration. We can’t just simply open our borders to everyone who wants to live here. We need to call on Congress to step up and deal with the crisis at our southern border immediately.

I am not heartless. I know there are many innocent people caught up in this mess that are coming here to work and be productive citizens just like my ancestors did many years ago. But there is also great evil coming: an evil so skillful in disguising itself as harmless that even the most wary could be deceived.

As the surge of people at the border reached record highs at the end of the year and it became clear that the influx would expand well beyond the border states, my husband asked me what we would do if a family came walking down our lane.

If Congress doesn’t find a solution quickly, that could very well be a question many of us on farms and ranches across this country will need to answer.

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