Cindy Casares over at Guanabee reported today on a website launched last week by the Texas Department of Agriculture for border ranchers and farmers. The site, ProtectYourTexasBorder.com, aims to “document the true stories of those who supply our food under the constant danger of criminals who have crossed our border illegally.” In the “About” section, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples elaborates on the impetus behind the new project:
Through this website, I implore the federal government to enforce our laws and secure our nation’s borders. We are at war and our federal government must answer its call of duty to protect its citizens and our national security.
Until Washington stands beside us, Texas is prepared to take matters into its own hands to the fullest extent possible. Texas will fight and protect to the best of our ability, but a successful campaign to stop border violence will require Washington to acknowledge this threat as a national security issue and assign the appropriate resources to combat and defeat our enemies. I can assure you a threat to our citizens and food supply is a threat to our national security.
The website also includes a message board where users can register and post their proposed solutions. As Julian Aguilar of the Texas Tribune points out, proposals include calls for violence. “The most well known fighters of our Revolutionary war were not trained, they used hide and shot tactics that would work great today… If we — Americans — start shooting the bad guys, they will get the message!,” wrote one user — jcarrott. Other comments range from “Killem all!!!! They are destroying or great country,” to suggestions that the U.S. deploy “watch groups, community patrols, land mines, tiger traps and roving packs of rabid [weasels]” at the border.
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), who referred to the site as a “propaganda campaign,” noted that the anecdotal information it contains doesn’t reflect actual crime statistics at the border. “The website leaves the impression that Texas border communities are dangerous, when, in fact, cities such as El Paso, McAllen, and Brownsville are safer than most other cities in Texas, including Austin,” he said. “Our state is facing a $27 billion budget crisis, and our state leaders are wasting scarce tax dollars to support a platform that portrays rural Texas like rural Afghanistan.”
Counties along the southwest border have some of the lowest rates of violent crime per capita in the nation and those rates have dropped by more than 30 percent since the 1990s while immigration has soared. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, along with a coalition of border city mayors, recently called on politicians to stop exaggerating the levels of violence occurring on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico.
Meanwhile, there is some speculation that Staples may have his sights on higher office in 2014.