Tensions Run High on Border as Crisis Worsens

July 6, 2021 Updated: July 7, 2021

DEL RIO, Texas—Alison Anderson and her husband, a Border Patrol agent, moved from a remote ranch near Big Bend, Texas, after one too many armed encounters with illegal aliens on their property.

Anderson grew increasingly concerned about her ability to protect her young daughters as groups of men would approach the house while her husband was at work. On multiple occasions, she was left to fend off illegal immigrants with her firearm, as the closest help was an hour away.

The family moved to Del Rio at the beginning of 2020, and at first she breathed a sigh of relief.

“We wanted a safe upbringing for our kids,” Anderson told The Epoch Times on June 25. “I want them to be able to play outside and not have to worry about a group of 15 people or 24 or 40 cutting through. Or someone snatching my kids.”

But since January, the masses of illegal aliens traversing through her neighborhood has had Anderson more worried than ever. Border agents caught a convicted rapist several weeks ago on the edge of her property.

“Having three little girls and having convicted sexual predators in and or around your property is terrifying,” she said. Her girls are aged 5, 3, and 1.

“It’s terrifying, because I feel like I can’t let my guard down for one second. And that is why we left the ranch—because I couldn’t let my guard down for one second. I had little people depending on me, and I don’t like that feeling. I don’t like all the feelings that come with it—the stress, the anxiety, the constant worry.”

Epoch Times Photo
Kinney County Constable Steve Gallegos and Kinney County Sheriff’s deputies arrest a smuggler and seven illegal aliens from Guatemala near Brackettville, Texas, on May 25, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Once a relatively quiet region for illegal border crossings, the Del Rio Sector is now the second busiest, after the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas.

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase. So far this fiscal year, today, we’ve caught 144,000 people in the Del Rio sector,” Sector Chief Austin Skero said on June 24.

Agents in the sector have also had a 1,400 percent increase in arrests of illegal aliens with sex-related criminal convictions so far this fiscal year, compared to the same period last year, Skero said. A large number of the detainees had convictions for crimes involving a minor.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t read a paper or a report from my agents that talks about criminal aliens, sexual offenders that they’ve apprehended out there,” newly appointed Acting Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said at an event in Del Rio on June 24.

As the crow flies, Anderson’s house is four miles from the international border, and the people she encounters are trying to avoid capture. The property lines up next to a road that has become a pickup spot for smugglers to load their vehicles and make a run to a large city, often San Antonio.

Anderson said she’s in the process of installing a camera system, and she and her husband plan to build a fence around the house—both things they wouldn’t normally consider.

Many of her neighbors are elderly and terrified, she said. “I have one neighbor that said she won’t even go out of her house if her husband isn’t home.

“It’s unacceptable to not uphold and enforce the immigration laws that Congress put in place to keep U.S. citizens safe.”

Dogs Make the Difference

Rancher John Sewell said his three Blue Lacy dogs have likely helped change the outcome in his favor during several encounters with illegal aliens, including when a group of five men approached him and said they wanted a ride in his truck.

“I said, ‘No, y’all just need to keep walking,'” Sewell said. “My car was in the opposite direction to where they should have been walking, but they started walking to my car. Well, of course, when the dogs smelled them, it was just a fiasco.”

The dogs rounded up the group, but when the illegal aliens started looking for something to pick up in defense, Sewell said he pulled his gun out and told them to get going.

“Finally, they got 50 feet or 70 feet away; I called the dogs back, and they went on,” he said.

Sewell’s ranch is in Uvalde County, about 55 miles from the international border. It’s also six miles from a Border Patrol highway checkpoint, which means illegal immigrants use his ranch to skirt the checkpoint by foot before being picked up again on the other side.

“In 25 years, I’ve never personally carried a gun. In the last five months, I carry one every single day. That ought to tell you all you need to know.”

He’s getting a camera installed at his main headquarters, and his wife doesn’t answer the door without a gun in her hand.

“Usually before, if someone came to the house, they were in dire straits—really dehydrated or lost or whatever. Now … they want you to give them a ride,” Sewell said.

Epoch Times Photo
John Sewell on his ranch in Uvalde County, Texas, on June 12, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Several months ago, as nine men ran straight toward him, Sewell grabbed his rifle and released his dogs, while yelling at them to stop. The dogs headed the men off, and they jumped a fence and ran off.

“If I hadn’t had the dogs, I don’t know what would have happened. I felt like I was going to have to shoot,” he said. “I’m just at my wit’s end. I can’t sustain having to worry about the two out of 10, or two out of 100 bad guys that happen upon me.”

Sewell estimates Border Patrol is catching about one-third of the illegal aliens that are crossing. Last week, he personally saw 45 people, and his ranch is 27 square miles of remote pasture.

It’s also a hunting ranch, and he’s concerned about what will happen when the season opens on Oct. 2 and hundreds of people with high-powered rifles are in the area.

“If it’s anywhere close to this, there’s going to be multiple confrontations every single day,” he said.

He attributes the dramatic increase in illegal traffic to the Biden administration’s policies and doesn’t see help coming from Washington.

“It’s not our position to send them more money to keep their people in their own country. It’s our position to protect our borders,” he said. “We live in a republic, the last I checked. And that means that our government is supposed to protect us from all of the things like this. But that is not happening.”

Vice President Kamala Harris has said she is focusing on the “root causes” of illegal immigration and aims to send more aid to Central American countries.

Epoch Times Photo
Border Patrol agents apprehend 21 illegal aliens from Mexico who had hidden in a grain hopper on a freight train heading to San Antonio, near Uvalde, Texas, on June 21, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Train Traffic

Archie McFadin lives near Uvalde, adjacent to where Border Patrol stops and inspects the trains traveling from the U.S.–Mexico border to San Antonio. As a train slows down to stop, often a stream of illegal aliens will jump off and run onto his property to avoid Border Patrol.

“They were down here this morning, a helicopter landed out here in the field and [Border Patrol] picked up some,” McFadin said on June 30.

McFadin said “everything changed” in January after President Joe Biden took office and revoked several key border security measures.

McFadin now gets illegal immigrants running around his property at least five days a week. His dog has stopped anyone from entering the immediate area by the house, but the day The Epoch Times visited, McFadin was having a home alarm system installed.

“We never even locked our vehicles,” he said. “Now we live like we’re in prison, and our government is protecting them, not us.”

This year, Border Patrol has seen a 911 percent increase in the number of illegal aliens on the trains in Uvalde compared to last year.

“The increase in the number of illegal immigrants that are going through Uvalde on trains has become a serious problem for Border Patrol, local law enforcement, and our community, as most of these individuals have criminal records or gang affiliation and wouldn’t be allowed in our country,” Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told The Epoch Times on June 23.

McFadin’s ranch hand now spends up to five hours a day checking and fixing fences on his other property that didn’t have a problem last year.

“Some of them are small holes where they try to slip through at night to catch a ride out here on Highway 55. Some of them are bigger holes,” he said. “To me, that’s just uncalled for.

“I wouldn’t even care if they came through here if they just wouldn’t tear up everything we’ve worked all of our lives for.”

Epoch Times Photo
Archie McFadin points out a cut fence that was intact that morning, on his property in Uvalde, Texas, on June 30, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

McFadin replaced a wire fence around a ranch house on his property in February after it had been broken into and ransacked several times. The house now has a tall, steel welded fence with razor wire on top. No one has broken in since then, he said.

He won’t let his grandkids swim in the pool without an adult present and a firearm handy. His daughter and son-in-law don’t go fishing at the pond anymore.

Last week, four illegal aliens came up on his wife and one of his daughters as they were driving through a gate on the ranch. They called Border Patrol, but the four weren’t captured.

He said he’s never been scared of illegal immigrants in the past, but now he’s “very, very cautious” because they’re so aggressive.

“I honestly don’t know what to do. There’s nothing we can do. Vote, three and a half years from now. That’s the only thing I know of that I hope we can do,” McFadin said.

“How do we leave? How do we leave our horses? How do we leave our dogs? How do we leave this place? Even if we wanted to sell it, no one would buy it right now because we’re on the railroad track.”

Charlotte Cuthbertson
Charlotte Cuthbertson
Senior Reporter
Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.