Arizona rancher frustrated as southern border crisis continues with no end in sight

Mar 12, 2024, 4:35 AM | Updated: Mar 13, 2024, 4:42 pm

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a four-part series called “48 Hours on the Border” in conjunction with ABC15 Arizona.

ARIVACA, Ariz. — Jim Chilton is a fifth-generation rancher who has called Arivaca, an unincorporated community in Pima County with less than 1,000 residents, home since 1987.

His sprawling 50,000-acre ranch, where he lives with his wife Sue, bumps up against the Mexican border for about 5 miles.

Chilton estimates at least 35 migrants have died on his ranch over the past few years. Many more have ended up at Chilton’s house, where he’s given out food and water.

The southern border crisis, in Chilton’s eyes, has progressively got worse in recent times, with no end in sight.

“Just horrible. It’s a humanitarian crisis,” Chilton told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “These people run out of water and they get lost.”

Border wall infrastructure aiding in southern border crisis

Chilton recently led journalists from KTAR News and ABC15 Arizona on a tour of the southern border.

For several miles, there were many gaps in the wall. Immigrants from several countries, including India, Mexico and Ecuador, were camped out or on foot heading west along the dirt road next to the wall about 20 miles south of Chilton’s home.

One woman asked for a baby bottle. As nightfall began to set, a group of women, along with a young boy, were in search of food. They were miles away from the nearest community of Sasabe, which is now essentially a ghost town.

Chilton pointed out a cross about 100 feet north of the border where he says a woman died just after reaching the United States.

“She probably walked for miles and just gave out. Just awful,” Chilton said.

Cartel control, lack of law enforcement ongoing problems at the southern border

Standing near the border wall, Chilton assured that cartel scouts were undoubtedly watching every move.

Chilton is constantly worried for the safety of his wife and the cowboys that work for him.

“We’re concerned we could get caught in the crossfire between the Border Patrol and the bad guys,” Chilton said. “Very concerned we might perish.

“We have a family cemetery and I’ll either be on top of the ground or below the ground, but the cartels aren’t going to push me off. I’m a cowboy, not a wimp.”

It’s been a while since Border Patrol has been on Chilton’s property. He estimates 4-5 months without seeing agents.

No Border Patrol agents were encountered during the entirety of the tour.

Chilton, regardless of who wins the 2024 presidential election, wants to see the wall finished and more security measures in place.

“America is facing a real crisis in my opinion,” Chilton said. “A real invasion.”

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Arizona rancher frustrated as southern border crisis continues with no end in sight