NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Tennessee 5th Congressional District candidate and former Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives Beth Harwell shared with The Tennessee Star what she learned during her trip to the U.S. southern border.
Harwell visited Naco, Arizona, on May 26 to visit the wall and attain firsthand experience regarding the problems that arise on the southern border.
The former speaker, who was the first TN-5 candidate to visit the border, spoke with several locals and ranchers during her visit who told her about their experiences living and working right at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“One rancher told me that when he opened his barn door in the morning to feed the cows – he found over a dozen illegal immigrants sitting in his barn,” she said.
Harwell learned after talking to another rancher “that so many of the illegal immigrants who are crossing the border are associated with cartels and are fleeing Mexico to save their own life.”
“These are not good people, as they’re involved in the cartel in some way. But when something goes sideways with the cartel, they will do anything to get across the border and escape the cartels. So, they’ll throw a rope at the top of the wall and climb over,” she said.
Harwell told The Star that where she was in Naco, people have barbed-wire fencing on the U.S. side to prevent illegal immigrants from jumping into America. Harwell said she was told “if the cost is death by cartels or injured in America – they will pick the U.S. side every day.”
“Some illegal immigrants come across in tunnels,” Harwell added.
According to Harwell, one rancher told her that he or she believes some of the houses in Naco are “safe houses.”
“A tunnel might start in Mexico and end up on the American side. The illegal immigrants will stay at the safe house for a few days and then move along,” Harwell said.
Harwell said ranchers told her that drones are effective at assisting border security agents.
“Drones are a huge help. They help with surveillance along the border and tracking dangerous illegal immigrants into the mountains who are escaping the cartel. They allow the Border Patrol agents to track them down easier,” she said.
The TN-5 Republican candidate said she learned about a “decoy strategy” that is used by border crossers in order to sacrifice one person, but get many more across the border.
“Ranchers told us that sometimes illegal aliens will send one person across the border to get caught and then a handful of them will cross the border now that the agent is occupied. They use one person as a decoy because they know once the Border Patrol apprehends someone law enforcement will spend hours booking this person in the system. One less Border Patrol agent will increase their chances of making it across the border undetected,” the former Tennessee state house speaker said.
Harwell’s campaign has made securing the U.S. southern border one of its central themes.
The Star previously reported Monday that Harwell released an 8-point plan to secure the border. Her plan calls for finishing Trump’s wall, keeping Title 42 in place, expanding on the American Governors’ Border Strike Force, hiring more Border Patrol agents, stopping sanctuary cities, making sure localities work with ICE, ending catch-and-release, and continuing the Remain in Mexico policy.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow Aaron on GETTR, Twitter, Truth Social, and Parler.
Photo “Beth Harwell at the U.S.-Mexico Border” by Beth Harwell.