The Obama administration asserts that as a result of its two-year Southwest Border Initiative, the southern boundary has never been more secure. But Texas state officials and some border ranchers disagree; they’ve been saying that the violence in Mexico is spilling over and the president is not protecting the homeland. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano weighed in earlier this year.

“It is inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the United States side of the border is overrun with violence or out of control,” she said.

Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that the U.S. Border Patrol has achieved operational control of 44 percent of the southern border. Its mission to bring the entire border under control is hindered by difficult terrain, lack of roads and a need to prioritize hot spots on the western border.

What that means is that, basically, everything downstream of El Paso, Texas, is under less control. That’s no surprise to Mike Vickers, who has a ranch not too far from the border.

From his four-wheeler, the white-haired rancher notices with concern a flock of buzzards perched in an oak tree. He knows what that can mean. Hundreds of illegal immigrants — and the occasional drug trafficker — cross his ranch every year going north. And some don’t make it.