We Feel There Is an Imminent Threat / by Karie Luidens

New Mexico ranchers frustrated with situation along U.S.-Mexico border

Chris Ramirez
January 25, 2019 04:20 PM

When a crime occurs on ranch land, they call the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office for help, but the sheriff admits help is not always available.

“The citizens aren't protected," said Hidalgo County Sheriff Warren Walter.  “We need to have more manpower.”

The Sheriff’s Office only has four working deputies to cover 3,500 square miles.  

“With my four officers – days off, vacation time, sick leave-- we can't cover 24 hours a day,” said Sheriff Walter.  “We are basically 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at night.  That's the best I can do.  In my honest opinion, that's not fair to the citizens of the county.” 

And when a deputy is at the border responding to a crime, that leaves the rest of the county unmanned.  The situation is so desperate, the Hidalgo County Manager wrote a letter to the governor and Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, begging for more assistance. 

Hidalgo County Manager Tisha Green wrote in part, “we feel there is an imminent threat to the safety and welfare of our citizens in Hidalgo County.  Resources such as medical, law enforcement and sanitation are amongst those most needed.”

“The calls I get from citizens, they state there are people in their backyards, they are seeing several on a daily basis, and people are breaking into their homes, stealing different items.  They feel like they are not safe, not protected” Green told KOB during an interview, in response to her letter.

Ranchers and Hidalgo County officials hope the state can help fund more deputies.  They also want Santa Fe politicians to see what they are seeing.  In early January, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham visited the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in Dona Ana County and said she didn't see a crisis.

“While I've been to this area of the border many times, I haven't seen anything that indicates that we have an emergency crisis here at the border and that's important to talk to New Mexicans about and I also think it's important to talk to the nation about.”

The governor’s words deeply offended the ranchers.

“The asinine idea that these politicians spout out that ‘oh our border is secure, there is not a crisis here.’  For them, there is not.  They live in Washington or they live in Santa Fe and they only come here to secure ports.  It's a crock.  And it's absolutely insulting to the people who live down here," Kris Massey stated during an impromptu town hall.