Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Border fence under way in Lower Valley

El Paso Times
August 27, 2008

EL PASO -- Dozens of columns have been erected along the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso for the preliminary stages in the construction of the controversial border fence.
For about two weeks, construction workers have anchored the columns into the ground, working their way from South Yarbrough Drive to about a mile east, said Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Ramiro Cordero of the El Paso Sector.

By the end of the year, he said, 57 miles of metallic mesh fence from Socorro to the Fabens port of entry should be complete.

The fence, 15 to 18 feet high, will be part of 670 miles of barrier being placed along the border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

A few miles away, Yolanda Levario can see the evenly spaced co lumns from the front of her Lower Valley home in the 400 block of Arvin.

"I think it's good they're doing it, because of all the violence in Mexico. I'm afraid it (violence) might cross over," Levario said.

"I think it's OK; I don't have a problem with it. I think we'll be safer because we're closer to the border."

Since the beginning of the year, nearly 900 people have been killed in execution- and ambush-style slayings in Juárez.

Even though officials have said they do not believe the violence will spill over, Levario, 53, said she thinks the wall will be an extra preventive measure to keep El Pasoans safe.

But Lorenzo Marquez said the idea of the wall should have never been conceived.

"It looks like it shouldn't be there," he said as he glared at the poles from J.P. Shawver Park on Monday. The park is near South Yarbrough Drive directly across the César Chávez Memorial Highway.
"I personally don't think it should be done. ... A fence is not going to do anything. There are already a lot of people who are drowning in that canal.

"By now they're saying 'It's dangerous to come across that fence,'" he said.

Marquez, who was with his 1-year-old granddaughter, looked at her and said he worries about what younger people will think about the barrier. He said he believes there are going to be many repercussions for the Hispanic culture.

There have been several national failed attempts to stop the fence from being built, including lawsuits by Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, El Paso County, the city of El Paso, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and other agencies.

Several advocacy groups have also held events opposing the barrier.

This week, a group will protest the building of the fence by marching from Fort Hancock to El Paso.

But Cordero, of the El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol, said the fence will help continue to decrease border apprehensions and crime along the border.

He said people should know the fence will only be effective along with other tools such as manpower, sensors, night vision and cameras.

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