Border ranchers decry impacts of illegal immigration, including armed intrusions and fever ticks


HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) —Armed intrusions, economic losses, fever ticks, trespassing, and property damage are just a few ways ranchers along the Rio Grande say they are affected by the influx of migrants crossing the border illegally.

“I’m going to step lightly and tell you we do carry our guns. I’ve had armed intrusions here before,” said Richard Guerra, a Starr County rancher.

Guerra owns 8,000 acres along the Rio Grande. He said that when the migrants cross illegally, it can come at a cost.

“Some of these people do a lot of damage because they leave the gates open, they tear down the fences. Some of these people on the highway, there are chases, they knock down your fence, they cut down your fence. All of that is an expense that I have to bear, nobody pays us for that,” he said.

Apart from property damage, Guerra said cartels on the Mexican side force ranchers to abandon their properties, leaving their animals behind, which can bring across fever ticks.

“People that cross sometimes bring the fever tick on humans. Plus, the cattle, horses and everything that comes across the river, if they have ticks on them, then I’m most likely going to be quarantined,” Guerra told KVEO.

Fever ticks can cause cattle fever, which is deadly. Since regulations tend to be laxer in Mexico, cattle along the border can be more easily exposed to ticks. Ranchers must then quarantine before cattle can be moved north to slaughterhouses or other ranches.

The quarantine can be costly for ranchers because they can’t move their cattle until they are free of ticks.

Guerra’s property is patrolled by an aerostat, which he said gives him some comfort and security, but there have been talks those could go away.

“It’s worrisome because the administration is saying, ‘well (aerostats) cost too much or they are going to come up with new technology to replace some of that,’ but when is that going to happen?  Instead, they are shutting these things down, with no new technology. Well, we’re going to have a tsunami of people coming across,” Guerra said.

Guerra said that ranchers’ concerns need to be addressed and they need to be compensated for their losses either from the state or federal government.

“I hope that this president and administration wakes up,” he said “We do have a crisis, they need to address it, do not sugar coat it, it’s a problem.” 

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The mission of is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.