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Wyatt Watson’s stories might be unbelievable if it weren’t for the bullet mark on his windshield. The Texas native’s conscience just wouldn’t let him have a relaxing retirement.
Instead of donning a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops at a coastal resort, the 66-year-old opted for a bulletproof vest and a pair boots, much more appropriate attire for his nightly patrols on the banks of the Rio Grande, where he intercepts and repels illegal immigrants.
“My time is running out,” Watson admitted to The Daily Wire. “I’m 66 years old … my window’s closing fast.” He added, “I want to feel like my life mattered.”
He’s not a member of the Border Patrol, but that doesn’t stop him and up to 50 volunteers from patrolling the border. He and those who volunteer alongside him have worked in conjunction with authorities, taking time to learn from their strategies. Watson noted that members of law enforcement have repeatedly thanked them for their work.
Their operation has largely been successful. Watson told The Daily Wire that he and his volunteers have turned back roughly 5,000 illegal immigrants and detained 598, who were handed over to Border Patrol.
But defending the southern border is an easy way to make dangerous enemies, especially when it gets in the way of the cartels’ preferred ways of making money — smuggling drugs and people.
“I guess I pissed someone off,” Watson quipped as he leaned up against his truck, the windshield of which was scarred by what appeared to be a bullet mark. He explained that his truck windshield was struck by a bullet in April as he was driving down the highway. A member of law enforcement confirmed that the mark marring his windshield was left by a bullet, telling Watson that it was likely a pistol caliber, potentially a 9mm.
But Watson got lucky. The round hit the thickest part of the windshield and ricocheted off. A few inches higher and the incident might’ve been fatal.
Not long after, while on a piece of property used by Watson’s group, a dog was “assassinated.” Just minutes before, the dog was playing with its owners. It was found tied to the front porch with a gunshot wound in the head. Watson says it was “meant to send a message,” as if the shot that ricocheted off his windshield hadn’t already.
It all led to a greater sense of gravity around the crisis. The struggle for control of the border isn’t just a matter of policy and punditry for Watson, but a matter of life and death.
Nonetheless, he continues to patrol the border, and with great effect. “We had 185 [people] try [to] come through here one night,” Watson told The Daily Wire as he walked along the fencing that Governor Greg Abbott had built, mere feet away from the river bank.
Evidence of illegal border crossings littered dense patches of tall carrizo cane, a fast-growing, invasive plant that lines much of the Rio Grande. It didn’t take long before Watson pointed out wet clothes, backpacks, and still-shiny pesos scattered in the brush.
Illegal immigrants often wade across the river with backpacks full of dry clothes. Once they make it to shore, they change into dry clothes, stuff their wet clothes into their backpacks, and hide them in hopes that authorities don’t notice the debris.
While Watson and the volunteers have greatly diminished the amount of successful border crossings in the area, their task has been made more difficult by the ubiquity of the cartels. “There’s cartel presence everywhere. There’s people who are paid by the cartel, there are landowners who are paid to let people across their property,” Watson explained. “But what they got to understand is, they’re not crossing this river anymore.”
As Watson walked along the fenceline back towards the property, a piece of brass shimmered in the Texas sun. An unspent .22 pistol round lay in the dirt at our feet. “Well … it ain’t one of ours,” Watson warned, holding up the cartridge in his hand. He and his men don’t carry .22, but the cartel does. “Once you start seeing .22, you get nervous.” Watson explained that the small, quiet round is one of the cartel’s preferred methods of assassination.
Little moments like this, paired with those more frightening run-ins, remind Watson just how dangerous — and vital — of a task he has undertaken.
“Honestly, I’ve asked God to release me from this several times,” Watson confessed. But that doesn’t mean that he regrets his choice to patrol the border — quite the opposite.
Though the dangers have only become more pronounced since he started, Watson made it clear that he knew what he was getting into. “I made up my mind the first day I came out here that I might not come back from here,” Watson admitted with solemn resolve.
Watson’s stories of sacrifice and daring were underscored by the sense of a second tragedy that he, as well as others living on the border, had alluded to: the human smuggling could be halted, the drug peddling could be stopped, and America — not the cartels — could control its own border, if only the most powerful members of our political system so desired. But in the meantime, it is up to bold, uncompromising men of action, Wyatt Watson chief among them.