The following story first appeared on CW 33 News.

Website Created By Texas Agriculture Commissioner Raises Awareness About Border Security

Daniel Novick, CW 33 News, March 15, 2012

DALLAS— It is a website filled with testimonials of run-ins with drug cartels and border violence. The videos show farmers, ranchers, land owners and Texas Rangers discussing what they have seen and experienced living on the border with Mexico.

“It’s getting very, very dangerous,” said former farmer Joe Aguilar in one of the videos on the website.
“There is a problem,” said another farmer who wanted to remain anonymous.

“Totally unsafe,” said Susan Durham with the South Texans’ Property Rights Association.

The videos all showed people who live and work on the border with two messages: It’s dangerous on the border and the politicians in Washington D.C. are not paying attention to the problem.

“We do not have enough boots on the ground,” said Roland Garcia, a special ranger for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

“They need to send more people down here,” said the anonymous farmer.

“Until I think there is that awareness by the folks in power up there, the problem will get worse before it gets better,” said Dale Murden in one of the videos.

The website was created not by Minutemen or anti-immigration proponents, but Todd Staples, the commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

“The rural, wide open areas of Texas are under attack, where property owners are afraid to go back on their own property,” Staples told CW 33 News.

But Rita Kirk, the director of the SMU Maguire Ethics Center, said the website failed to show a strong connection between border violence and agricultural production, and she believed it was more of a political platform than a source of information.

“What we would expect from a governmental institution is to provide us facts and information that lead us to make good decisions. So we would expect there to be kind of a neutrality of facts, but factual information presented,” said Kirk.

One of her biggest concern was the ‘About’ section of the website.

“He says, ‘Texas is prepared to take matters into its own hands to the fullest extent possible.’ Another phrase, ‘We are at war.’ So those are calls to arms,” Kirk told CW 33 News.

Staples said he was just trying to draw attention to an issue that he believed was put on the back burner in Washington D.C.

“As a statewide elected official myself, if constituents come to me and say that there is a problem, I’m going to ask for the help that we need,” said Staples.

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