As members of the public who are most affected by our dysfunctional border security system, we, South Texas landowners, land managers, and owners of agricultural operations, strongly urge the Biden Administration to consider unintended consequences in pursuing significant changes to, or cessation of, the previous administration’s Migrant Protection Procedures (MPP), otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

In their efforts to change MPP to address humanitarian concerns, the new administration’s announced review of the policy has already played into the hands of the cartels, even though the official border shut-down under current COVID-19 protection policies remains in place.

In keeping with their standard exploitation procedures, the cartels have used the announced MPP review process and the 100-day moratorium on deportations to give false hope to migrants, leading them to pay the cartels exorbitant fees to be illegally and dangerously smuggled across the border. The net result in South Texas has currently been a significant rise in cartel-driven trespassing, insecurity, and damage on open land. In the last few weeks, it has been widely reported that a caravan of 7,000 to 8,000 desperate but misguided Hondurans are clashing with law enforcement personnel in Guatemala, trying to push into the United States, though they will meet stiffer blockades in Mexico.

There had been significant improvement over the past few years for landowners and agriculturalists in the South Texas region, both south and north of the interior Border Patrol Checkpoints. But in the last several months, the calm has again stirred to a mixture of daily and nightly incursions by smugglers with their victims, traversing by foot, but mostly by vehicle, through private property, causing human endangerment and high economic costs. There are even strong indications that the smugglers, known as “coyotes”, are now carrying firearms, which raises the threat level of possible deadly confrontations.

The illegal immigrants have increasingly put themselves into harm’s way, at the hands of the cartels, which will all too often lead to their financial exploitation, incarceration, abuse, injury, rape, and even death. Meanwhile, South Texas landowners and managers are forced into an increasingly untenable situation of trying to keep themselves and their families safe, repairing damaged gates and fences due to law enforcement pursuits and “bail-outs”, and reporting and preventing trespasser injury and death.

Our organization, the South Texans’ Property Rights Association, was formed in 2006 largely to address our broken immigration and border security system in a reasonable and rational way. Over the years, we have served as a conduit among landowners, policy-makers, and state, Federal, and local law enforcement officials to improve the safety and economic stability for those living and working in rural South Texas. Since our inception, we have consistently advocated for:

  • * A secure and tightly managed border using adequate personnel, equipment and technology and physical barriers wherever appropriate
  • * Providing expedited judicial review that negates the need for a “catch and release” policy
  • * Establishing a functional guest worker program that securely provides needed workers, while ensuring that no American loses a job as a result

* Retaining current law that prohibits those illegally in the United States from obtaining citizenship, while providing a stringent process for persons who have not violated any other laws and are not public burdens to regularize their legal status.

  • * Working with Mexico and Central American countries to significantly decrease and prevent illegal immigration through financial and local law enforcement assistance (We would add a call for the new administration to build upon earlier attempts to allow asylum-seekers to apply in their own countries, thereby minimizing their personal jeopardy.)

We challenge the new administration and Congress to address the border security situation in a constructive way that will achieve the best possible outcome. Only a thoughtful and bold strategy, devoid of emotional and partisan political concerns, will yield such an outcome.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Walter Negley, Chairman Emeritus of the South Texans’ Property Rights Association. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Negley can be reached by email via: [email protected].

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