FORT HANCOCK, Texas – Border security has not been much of a presidential campaign issue but it's still a hot topic in Texas where the agriculture commissioner launched the latest episode in a web series called “Texas Traffic.”
The 16-part series is described on the Texas Department of Agriculture web page as “true stories of drug and human smuggling” and features border ranchers and farmers as well as local law enforcement.
In Texas, most of the 1,241 miles of border is private property and much of it is along the Rio Grande.
“Our property is from here to the river,” said Jim Ed Miller standing in his cotton fields where yellow flowers are in full bloom.
His family has had to deal with people illegally crossing the border and cutting through farmland.
“My homeland security wife and daughter only saw three coming by the house. By the time I got here, I assume two already got in the sand hills. One was in the cotton patch, “said Miller describing a recent incident on a call to the Border Patrol.
“My nickname is 'BB' because I’m either bitching or bragging,” said the third-generation cotton farmer who takes pride in protecting his property.
He’s critical of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
“Janet Incompetano thinks so much of her fence that she doesn’t want anyone tearing it up so she puts Border Patrol down there to guard the fence,” said Miller.
Farmers complain not enough is being done to keep smugglers off farms and ranches.
In the Border Patrol Srategic Plan for 2012-2016, which includes an interactive version, the agency says it will focus on a "risk-based strategic plan" to combat transnational organized crime.
According to the Border Patrol, the illegal border crossings declined sharply to their lowest level in decades. So far this year Border Patrol arrests in the El Paso sector, which includes Miller’s farm, are down by 9 percent over the previous year.
U.S. Border Patrol apprehensions this year have started to creep up, increasing by 7 percent nationwide along the southwest border.
“We can argue statistics all day long but statistics fail to cover up bullet holes,” said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.
In one of the web episodes, Dale Murden, a Texas farmer in the Rio Grande Valley predicts, “Things are going to get worse before they get better.”
Some in rural areas are prepared for that possibility.
“That’s my protection rifle,” said Jerry Klein who carries an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in his pickup truck.
He worries about the violence on the river.
”In this area it hasn’t bled over too bad,” Klein said.
Klein said that he is often stopped and questioned by the Border Patrol while working on the farm.
“I think they ought to be on the border watching the border not over here messing with us,” said Klein.
Miller shares that opinion. “You need to be out on the border, not out here on the highway. That’s where it all starts - on the border," he said.