- TUCSON --I know how to kill the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill and
the illusions that inspire it. We need every citizen to spend a day at
John and Pat King's Anvil Ranch in southern Arizona. The experience would
create an overnight revolution in America's view of this domestic crisis.
- The Kings live every day with barking
dogs, vandalism, guns at their bedside, trash on their land, and most tragically,
human remains. The bodies of seven illegals were found on the 50,000-acre
Anvil last year.
- "Can you imagine dying of heat prostration
out there?" says Pat King, a 62-year-old former nurse. "It has
got to be the most awful thing. I wish the two countries would get together
and stop this. In this whole 50-mile area, there is no law. It's a frontier."
- I visited the Anvil a week ago Sunday.
The night before, the Minutemen had wrapped up a month-long watch at the
ranch, and the nationwide demonstrations to demand rights for illegal immigrants
would begin the next morning.
- I've visited many Arizona ranches, and
it always surprises me how quickly I can travel from Tucson to a combat
zone. It takes 50 minutes to reach Anvil's headquarters in heavily-crossed
Altar Valley, located to the southwest of the city. Even with that proximity,
most people in Tucson-to say nothing of Maine or Washington, D.C.-live
in blissful ignorance of the worsening situation here.
- When Pat discusses the problem with friends,
they say, "Don't you think you're exaggerating?" No one would
ask that if they saw the 40 bicycles stacked against one of the Anvil's
out-buildings. They're the favored means of transportation for drug smugglers,
who pack their cargo onto saddlebags and pedal across our border, then
abandon the bikes.
- As for vandalism, Pat describes what
they experience today as "wanton," -- water troughs filled with
garbage, pipes cut, valves hammered to pieces. She jokes that they're thinking
of putting a tetherball by the troughs to occupy the illegals so they aren't
- "You have to understand, we're under
siege here," she says. "Every day my son and husband check water
and fences and redo the damage they've done. Not to get on with our work,
but to undo the damage. Every. Day."
- Micaela McGibbon, Pat's daughter, took
me on a ranch tour, and in one mile we crossed 30 smuggling trails. In
a wash, we inspected sophisticated brush huts in which illegals rest during
- But this nightmare comes right to the
Kings' doorstep. Imagine living under permanent stakeout. The Kings do.
They removed mesquite trees from around their house because illegals would
hide underneath them and wait for the house to empty.
- For nine years, the family has been unable
to leave home unless someone stays to guard against burglars. They celebrate
Christmas in shifts. On Christmas Eve, Pat's son and daughter-in-law go
to Tucson to visit family, and when they return John and Pat go on Christmas
- Micaela can no longer do chores unless
accompanied by her father or a brother, and taking her 4-year-old daughter
out on horseback is forbidden. "We can't go anywhere without an escort,"
- The Kings have complained to politicians
and law enforcement for years. "They talk this rule of law stuff,
but it doesn't mean a thing," Pat says. "When you realize nothing's
going to happen, you have to do self-protection."
- During their April watch, Minutemen spotted
1,501 illegals on the Anvil, and of these the Border Patrol arrested 500.
But it turned into a circus. ACLU volunteers showed up every day to monitor
and harass the Minutemen, at times sounding car horns and flashing lights
to alert the illegals that the Border Patrol was coming. This is the border
crisis in microcosm --confused Americans rush to defend lawbreakers while
ignoring, even demonizing, law-abiding citizens who suffer daily affronts
to basic liberties on land their family has tended for 115 years.
- The Anvil's location, 38 miles north
of the border, means that by the time illegals arrive there, they've been
walking for days and are sometimes in desperate shape.
- Between May and August last year, cowboy
Jason Cathcart found four sets of human remains. He came to dread spotting
what looked like little white balls in the distance. Those "balls"
turned out to be human skulls.
- In March, a man arrived at the Anvil's
front gate so distraught that he ran into the yard and tried to impale
himself on a pitchfork. Later he took up a bale hook and used the pointed
end to slash his throat. "This is what life is like in the Altar
Valley," says Pat.
- Certainly the McCain-Kennedy bill will
do nothing to change life here. Pat likens the bill, with its plan for
amnesty, a guest- worker program, and negligible enforcement, to swatting
flies in your house with the doors and windows wide open.
- Ask yourself: Would the Altar Valley
be a war zone if McCain lived here? If Kennedy's Hyannisport compound were
magically transplanted to southern Arizona, how long do you think it'd
be before he rewrote his bill? The first time Kennedy saw 30 illegals dashing
across his property, he'd trip over his Guatemalan lawn guy rushing to
the Senate floor to demand enforcement.
- That's one of the American tragedies
at play here, the abandonment of ordinary citizens by our country's elites,
and most strikingly, the abandonment of the very laws they themselves have
- The resulting invasion has driven legal
Arizona residents from their land, including John King's aunt. She lived
south of the Anvil for more than 40 years, but sold out rather than keep
fighting a battle the federal government has no intention of winning.
- Pat thinks the street demonstrators --
she calls them cowards -- need to show their bravery by returning to Mexico
and changing that country, not ours. "We did that with the Boston
Tea Party," she says. "We were taxed without representation and
we rose up and changed it. I think the students in the streets and these
young ACLU individuals here are being used. When you talk to them you realize
it's all emotion. There's no logic. They don't have a clue."
- When it comes to what's really happening
on our southern border, neither does the rest of the country. But that
would change if every American spent a day at the Anvil.
- Leo W. Banks is a writer in Tucson