While the Trump administration takes credit for the continued decline in illegal border crossings, one South Texas man is taking credit for the measures he's implemented to fend off smugglers and undocumented immigrants from his property.
“Trump wants to put a wall. What good is a wall if you don’t have somebody to guard it?” border farmer Robert Martinez said.
For the 86-year-old, farming his land every day is an act of pride. But Martinez takes even more pride in defending it.
The retired constable from Cameron County, Texas spends a good amount of time on the lookout for trespassers: Undocumented immigrants, drug smugglers, even border patrol agents.
“This has been going since before 1972,” he noted.
Martinez said that it’s been about four months since he last saw a large group of about 40-60 immigrants crossing through his property.
His property sits about a mile north of the U.S.-Mexico border, which he says is a prime location for illegal crossers.
“They walk like ‘cucarachas’ (cockroaches),” Martinez said.
There’s no federal border fence in his section of the property. So, fed up with the lack of security, he took matters into his own hands.
Just like Border Patrol uses a multi-layered approach to secure the border, Martinez installed lights with sensors, barriers, and has even begun putting up his own fence. He said that he's already seen improvement.
“I’ve been watching the ground for tracks and there’s none,” he said.
But it’s not just his security measures that have caused fewer people to come near his property.
The latest Department of Homeland Security report on illegal border crossings points to a 70 percent decline in border crossings compared to the same time last year, with 17,000 people detained by Border Patrol in March. The agency attributes the success, in part, to President Trump’s hard stance on immigration.
That’s good news for Martinez, but with a border wall “not likely” to stretch from “sea to shining sea” as DHS secretary John Kelly said Wednesday, this farmer will keep cultivating his land while keeping an eye out for trespassers.