Who hasn’t had a parking or speeding ticket? That makes you an illegal. Yes, it’s just a misdemeanor paid with a fine. Entering this country illegally is also a misdemeanor, not a felony. No one is sent to prison for entering illegally, just returned to their country. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier to fine them instead?
Legal entry isn’t as easy as you might think. Forty per cent of the people in Mexico don’t have birth certificates required for legal entry. Some states still don’t register births. My father didn’t have a birth certificate. He was born in California before births were recorded. He did have problems with that.
Even legal permanent entry takes an average of seven years to process the paperwork. Then it takes another three years for a green card.
We need the workers. We could make legal entry a matter of days, not years. We could accept other means of identification. This needs to be addressed first. Amnesty for illegals already here won’t do anything to prevent further illegal entry.
I was looking for Jesse James at the Porterville Indian reservation on a brucellosis traceback. His home wasn’t hard to find. All the homes on the reservation were strung out along a single road down a narrow canyon surrounded by mountains. But he was never home. I suspected he was avoiding me. Jesse was wanted by the authorities on drug charges.
He was safe enough. The reservation claimed sovereignty and didn’t recognize anything but tribal law. They didn’t allow government officials on the reservation, including me. They kept a guard at the entrance to the reservation and locked the gate at night.
I approached the leaders and convinced them of the importance of protecting the health of their cattle. They gave me a permit to enter at will, but couldn’t come up with Jesse James.
I did get a partial history of their cattle. They had approximately 2,000 cows that ranged in the mountains. The cows spent the summer at higher elevations in the mountains where the grass was, then came down to the valley during the winter. The tribe set limits on the number of cows allowed, depending on the amount of grass each year. Three families owned most of the cows. The only outside additions that could bring in disease were a few bulls and some steers in good grass years.
I got another brucellosis traceback, this time to one of the tribal leaders. He was available and I finally got some answers.
“How old was this cow?”
“She was one of a group of yearlings we sold.”
“I have her vaccination tag, so we know she was vaccinated. We can write her off as a vaccine reaction. Are you having any problems with abortions?”
“Can’t say. The calves are born in the mountains and the coyotes would get anything before we could see it. We are having a smaller calf crop than we would like to see.”
“That could be for a variety of reasons beside brucellosis. We can test your herd if you want. It’s up to you.”
“Let me talk with the others and I’ll get back to you.”
I brought my grandson Joey along on one of my visits. His first question was “Where are the Indians?”
“Look around you. These are all Indians.” They weren’t much to look at, dirt poor and most of them dressed in rags.
“But where are the feathers?”
“Joey, Indians don’t wear feathers all the time. They’re like anyone else.
Joey soon found two boys his own age and disappeared. They returned with a .22 rifle and wanted to teach Joey how to use it.
“Not here, there are too many people. That isn’t a toy.” They kept playing around and stuck the rifle in my face one too many times. I grabbed it away and locked it in my vehicle. I returned it to an adult as we left.
The tribal leaders got back to me and formally requested a brucellosis test at their annual roundup a month later. It was quite an operation – 2,000 cows in a huge corral. They separated out the calves for branding, vaccination, and castration of the young bulls. I and my crew only tested the 1,000 adult cows. We didn’t do bulls, they were too dangerous. The cows were bad enough, wild from running loose all year. Most of them had horns and knew how to use them.
We were able to bleed ten cows at a time in a long chute. The cows had to be held overnight while I rushed the samples to the lab. Four positives. They were picked out and sent to slaughter. They turned out to be negative. All that work for negatives? Yes, that’s what we were hoping for. Without it we would never be sure.
In the 90s the reservation built a casino, or rather a company from Las Vegas built the casino on a profit sharing arrangement. Suddenly the Indians were rich. A shiny new pickup appeared in front of all the shacks in the valley, then construction started on new houses with garages. So who needs cows? The Indians sold their cows and my visits stopped.
I never did get to meet Jesse James.