July 1, 2009
by Martin Bartlett
HUDSPETH COUNTY, Texas -- Federal contractors are busy this week putting the finishing touches on five miles of border fence in Hudspeth County.
ABC-7 has been following developments on that stretch of the border for years. It's south of Sierra Blanca in the smuggling hot spot known as Neely's Crossing.
The Border Patrol has always had a big job on this part of the rural border. But the help they are getting from the new border wall isn't help at all if you ask some ranchers like Bill Addington.
"Our cattle, our goats can't get access to the river anymore to drink water."
There are plenty of West Texas ranchers who favor the new border wall, and plenty more who say a planned system of high-tech border sensors will protect the border and ranchers.
But not Addington. "No, it's not the solution at all."
In fairness, the federal government has never given out a lot of details on their planned virtual wall.
"I couldn't chose between either one -- they'd both be destructive," Addington said.
Addington says the solution for more border enforcement along this stretch of the Rio Grande may be as simple as the Rio itself."
"A river isn't going to stop anybody either... but it's going to slow them down."
Addington cited a recent study commissioned by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
It says chopping down all the salt cedars and returning this stretch of the Rio Grande to the wild river it once was would actually help border efforts.
Addington said bringing the river back to life could make the border more secure and help keep ranching alive as well.