by: Wes Ishmael

I've known various ranchers along the southern border of the U.S. for more than two decades. I've always marveled at how they seem so sanguine in light of what has always seemed to me so unjust: you own property there, you try to milk a living from the land there, yet you do so with people you don't know—illegal aliens—traipsing all over it, picking up the trash they leave, providing those in critical need with water, food or emergency medical assistance.

You try to work within the system for changes to protect your property, as well as the illegal aliens using it as a stepping stone to what they hope will be a better life. Even when a national fence doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, you continue to do all of the above and more. Plus, you accept more complicated daily management because you must work with the border patrol and U.S. Homeland Security whether you want to or not.

You work peaceably with neighbor ranches on the other side of the border; they share the same unfortunate geography and challenges, after all. Plus, odds are you and they have been neighbors for generations. It takes a special breed to run cattle in what seems to much of the rest of the world a no-man's land.

You do all of that, and then…

Murder's the Same in any Language

By all accounts Rob Krentz was exactly that kind of person, and his family continues to be exactly those kinds of people, always willing to extend the hand of humanity to illegal aliens they encounter on their ranch.

Krentz was murdered March 27 on his own ranch, in the United States of America, apparently by an illegal alien who escaped back across the border.

Some have speculated, based on the circumstances, Krentz's compassion is how the assassin got the drop on him, playing possum as sick to catch him off guard. No one knows for sure except the coward who murdered him. They shot and killed his dog, too.

Further speculation is that a Mexican gang or drug cartel—like those behind the bloody violence in Mexican and U.S. border towns—was behind the murder as retribution for turning a discovered cache of drugs into the authorities. Such discoveries of drugs and cash are commonplace along the border. Currently, no one knows that for sure, either.

For all that, the Krentz family holds no animosity toward Mexican's entering the nation illegally. In a statement issued by the family shortly after Krentz's murder they explain:

“We hold no malice towards the Mexican people for this senseless act but do hold the political forces in this country and Mexico accountable for what has happened. Their disregard of our repeated pleas and warnings of impending violence towards our community fell on deaf ears shrouded in political correctness. As a result, we have paid the ultimate price for their negligence in credibly securing our Borderlands. In honor of everything Rob stood for, we ask everyone to work peacefully towards bringing credible law and order to our border and provide Border Patrol and County Law Enforcement with sufficient financial resources and manpower to stop this invasion of our country. We urge the President of the United States to step forward and immediately order deployment of the active U.S. military to the Arizona, New Mexico border.”

The Arizona ranching community and the Arizona Cattle Growers Association (ACGA) reacted quickly with support for the family and efforts to find the culprit.

Between ACGA—with contributions from Arizona Cattle Feeders Association and Arizona Farm Bureau—and the Department of Homeland Security, $40,000 has been raised so far as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer.

As well, according to a statement from the ACGA: “With the help of the McGibbon family, a Robert Krentz Memorial Fund has been established at Wells Fargo. Anyone who would like to donate to this fund can do so at any Wells Fargo—Account #5560960899.” For more information, contact Patrick Bray, ACGA at 602-762-0671;

“It is important that we apprehend the individual responsible for this heinous crime so that no one has to suffer like the Krentz family has,” said ACGA president, Steve Brophy. “It is also important that we send a clear message to those who choose to enter the United State of America illegally and wreak havoc on our southern Arizona border that we will not stand for this foreign invasion any longer. We must secure the border now.”

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called for immediate action by the federal government to increase public safety at Arizona's border through the addition of National Guard soldiers and airmen.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Krentz family during this horrible and unnecessary tragedy,” said Governor Brewer. “For over a year I have demanded that the federal government fulfill my request, joined by the Governors of Texas, New Mexico, and California, to uphold its constitutional responsibilities and increase security along the border through the deployment of additional National Guard troops. Our citizens must be protected from border violence. Additional soldiers can provide critical support to law enforcement agency operations, and a surge in troops at the Arizona border has been proven in the past to be effective.”

Likewise, Senator John McCain called for action in a letter to Secretary of U.S. Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. In the letter, McCain says, “…For years, I have called on the President to send National Guard troops to the border in an effort to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and narcotics. Most recently, I supported Governor Jan Brewer's request to place troops along Arizona's border with Mexico. Unfortunately, that request was rejected by this Administration. A year later, in light of the recent incidents and the continued growth of drug violence along the border, I am asking you and the Administration to immediately reconsider your position and send National Guard troops to our southern border region…

“…The people of Arizona and the United States demand and deserve secure borders. I hope that you will take a personal interest in ensuring that Arizonans can feel safe and protected on their own property and not live in fear of the increasing violence along the border. I look forward to a swift and decisive response to this situation.”

You are Free, Sort Of


Beyond the Constitution collectively, the 5th and 14th Amendments to it mention specifically citizen's rights to life, liberty and property. These ranchers along the border continue to have plenty of each of those taken from them because their federal government—the same one expecting them to pay taxes and all the rest—continues to fail them in providing one of the most basic freedoms of all—security against foreign invaders.

Just because folks beyond the northern and southern border of the U.S. are neighbors does not make them citizens of the U.S. any more than a citizen of Russia, Sweden or England.

This isn't about race; it's about common sense and justice. Every one of us in this country with a U.S. birth certificate originated with relatives who weren't from around here. They decided to come and become legal citizens. Everyone here legally who wasn't born here decided to do what it took to become a citizen.

With all of that in mind, Governor Brewer signed into law April 23 what some are calling the strictest immigration laws in the U.S.

“There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life. We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north,” Brewer explains. “…We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

In part, the new law helps law enforcement officials find, prosecute and deport illegal aliens.

It also promises to be a flashpoint for the simmering national debate over immigration reform. Before Brewer signed the law proponents on both sides of the debate were lobbing rhetoric at one another. Before the governor's signature was dry, President Obama decried the new law.

A day before signing the new law Governor Brewer announced an enhanced border security plan, saying, “The federal government has failed in its obligation and moral responsibility to secure our border. A government's principle responsibility to its citizens is to provide safety and security. States have never been expected, even in prosperous economic times, to sustain the national defense of our borders. With the resources we have today, I am doing everything within my power to ensure and promote safety for our citizens along our southern border.”

It's a border war, all right. But it has less to do with geography and more to do with that narrow line separating people from right, wrong and apathy.

Folks expect to have plentiful food at affordable prices. They expect to have basic health care affordably and on an on and on. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution guarantees any of that. Instead, what it does guarantee are certain rights. Unless we demand them, unless we cringe with the Krentz's in the face of such injustice and do something about it, those rights will go away. If we're willing to allow that, then it could be we never deserved them to begin with.


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