Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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‘I would build my own wall’: Border residents grow frustrated as migrants destroy property, leave trash

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Dozens — or sometimes hundreds — of migrants pass through private property along the California-Mexico border daily, according to local landowners who say they feel helpless as human caravans cut through their land.

“If I had the money, I would build my own wall right here!” Jacumba Hot Springs resident Brian Silvas told CNN. The U.S.-Mexico border wall ends a few feet into his 78-acre property, which is about 75 miles east of San Diego, and every day he witnesses migrants trekking across his land.

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“Sometimes there are huge groups of men and women, and I don’t want them through here,” he said.

“This country was built on immigration. I’m fine with that,” Silvas continued. “But not like this. This is ridiculous.”

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San Deigo Border Patrol agents encountered over 230,000 migrants in the 2023 fiscal year that ended in September, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, the highest in decades. By comparison, the sector had 176,000 encounters last year and just 53,000 in 2020. 

“It’s time to close the border to new immigration,” San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond said during an Oct. 26 press conference on border security. 

His remarks were in response to a leaked Customs and Border Protection memo from the San Diego Field Office stating “individuals inspired by, or reacting to, the current Israel-Hamas conflict” may cross into the U.S. via the southern border. 

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Roughly five miles east of Silvas’ home, also along the border, Jerry and Maria Shuster, are also experiencing a migrant emergency, one they feel helpless to stop. 

“The government should do something [to] stop this illegal immigration,” Maria Shuster, told CNN. “Stop it because [the migrants aren’t] helping us; they’re destroying us.”

“The migrants have more rights than we do,” she added.

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The Shusters have lived in Jacumba Hot Springs for over 40 years.

The couple regularly sees migrants camping on their 17-acre property. Tents, clothes and trash are frequently left behind. One group dismantled the couple’s fence to use it for firewood, Jerry Shuster said.

“[My trees] are all gone,” he told CNN. “They chop them up and put them in the fire.” 

Silvas, meanwhile, questioned what role the Border Patrol agents were playing, likening them to personal drivers for the migrants.

“The Border Patrol agents, I know that they didn’t sign up to be Uber, because that’s all they are right now is Uber,” he said.

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