Ranchers’ Grief on Illegal Immigration

King’s Anvil Ranch is part of the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance in Southern Arizona. Photo by: Aungelique Rodriguez
TUCSON, Ariz.- John and Pat King are frustrated with the neglect they believe they have received from the government in regards toward their safety on their ranch in Southern Arizona. 

In Arizona, ranchers have expressed their grief about the price they are paying in damages done by migrants crossing through their property.

For the John and Pat King, it is especially difficult to manage their ranch while living approximately 38 miles north of the border, with land that stretches as far as 50,000 acres.

As owners of King’s Ranch in Altar Valley, the King’s feel that border crossing has been the key component in their family’s safety concerns since the 1970s.


Pat said that the early 2000s was the most overwhelming, as the numbers of  illegal immigration crossings was at its highest on their land, resulting in much damage as well as costs. 

“This is a different crowd,” Pat said, reminiscing on the damages on her land including broken fences, broken water faucets at their tanks, vandalism, armed men, and even dead bodies. They have also acquired a large collection of bikes left behind by migrants.

Over the years, the Kings decided to put a water faucet out on their land so that crossers could fill their water bottles to prevent any more deaths from dehydration. Pat said that there were many times when the faucet was left running, draining 5,000 to 10,0000 gallons of water, and costing them for their deed. 

Based on the evidence left on the King’s ranch, Pat feels there are two kinds of people crossing on her land. While she feels some are crossing the border to lead a better life, she also feels that there are a large majority of drug smugglers as well.

Pat King has been living on King’s Anvil Ranch since the 70s. Photo by: Aungelique Rodriguez

In one particular situation, John King and his son were moving cattle in the mountains when King noticed that his son was heading toward what appeared to be drug packers. They were at a great distance apart and King couldn’t notify his son on his radio. Fortunately, the men passed along and no danger resulted.

“This is the kind of stuff that goes on out there,” Pat said.

Due to incidents like this, the Kings fear having women work on their land. She describes how times have changed and with these large groups of people coming through they simply “Can’t put women out here.”

The Kings feel that Arizona’s laws have not paid any regards to the safety of residents who live along the Southwest Border. Pat feels that there needs be working programs to ease the process of immigration for Mexican migrants.

The King’s acquired a large amount of bikes over the years left behind by migrants. Photo by: Aungelique Rodriguez
“Sometimes the situation is so corrupt that they’ve got to get out of there.”

The Department of Homeland Security recorded that there were approximately 560,000 illegal immigrants in the country in 2008. Arizona is the largest growing state for population among undocumented peoples.

“I pay my taxes and I obey the laws and I do all that I should do, am I not a citizen of the United States? Do I not have a right to some security in my own home,” Pat said.


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