As It Happens

Rancher with border wall on property likes idea of barrier, but says it 'doesn't work'

While Arizona cattle farmer John Ladd praises the new U.S. president's pledge for Mexico border wall, he's not so sure it will change anything.
Cattle rancher John Ladd. (AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)

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U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to build a wall along Mexico's border. And on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell estimated the cost of the wall: $12 to $15 billion.

Cattle rancher John Ladd has had a wall on his property for years. His property near Bisbee, Arizona meets the Mexican border. The steel wall, which has been there since 2006, is between three and four metres tall.

"The [3 metre] wall ... there's no effect at all. They climb it, cut it, do whatever they want with it. The [4 metre] wall is marginal. The old people and pregnant woman can't get over it. But everyone else can. As far as I'm concerned, anything under [five-and-a-half metres] is a waste of money."

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a congressional Republican retreat in Philadelphia on January 26, 2017. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

The rancher says undocumented immigrants often come onto his property and cut through barbed wire fences. He says he spends around 50 per cent of his time checking the fences and gates on his property to make sure his cattle don't get out.

While Ladd appreciates that Trump is addressing his concerns about the border, he thinks a physical wall is a waste of money and won't work. Instead, he'd like to see more border guards and effective government polices to keep out undocumented migrants. Here's how he explained it to As it Happens guest host Helen Mann. 

JOHN LADD: One of the things I've said ... is if border patrol was allowed to patrol the border. You know, our Congress has not allowed that to happen. They want to put them every place else except right on the international boundary. The fact is, if you put agents on the border, in line of site with each other, you don't need a wall. You need a fence to keep livestock from going back and forth. But you wouldn't need a wall. Then, if we enforce our immigration laws and have consequences for people getting caught, coming illegally, I think it would stop.

A worker stands next to a newly built section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Sunland Park, New Mexico. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez)

HELEN MANN: Were you ever in favour of an actual wall? I mean, when you heard the candidate Donald Trump talk about it, did that sound like it was a good idea?

JL: I was happy that he said it symbolically. I have to admit that. I thought, "Alright." I've experienced the wall and what it doesn't do ... For him to say that, he's the first president — or candidate back then — to actually address the issue. I said, "Yeah, let's build a wall between us and Mexico." You know, I still say it's symbolic.

I've had it since 2006 and it doesn't work.-  Rancher John Ladd

HM: For you, it was never an actual real structure?

JL: Right. I've had it since 2006 and it doesn't work.

HM: Do you have sympathy for some of the people ... who are coming up from Central and South America and Mexico, who are just wanting to find a better life?

JL: Well I used to ... I won't deny anyone help. And we've helped a bunch of people. But, at this stage of the game, if you're coming illegally and you don't understand the position you're putting yourself in by coming this way, that's your fault. Like I said, I'm not going to deny anyone help. But it's not a humanitarian issue anymore. It's a constitutional issue with me. If you don't have legal papers or go through the right process to become a citizen, I don't have any sympathy for you.

This interview with John Ladd has been edited for length and clarity. To hear more from the rancher, listen to the full audio above. 

Fifty kilometres east of Ladd's property is the town of Douglas, Arizona. It's also situated directly on the border. Jeanice Guzman, a dual Mexican-U.S. citizen, has lived there for 13 years.

Jeanice Guzman at the border wall near her house. (Jeanice Guzman)

Guzman does not support Trump's plan for a border wall. Listen to her interview with As it Happens guest host Helen Mann below. 

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