November 30, 2009
by Brian New
BROWNSVILLE, Texas - The border wall has a Texas woman feeling left out and unprotected.
For the past 11 months, crews have been busy along the Rio Grande River constructing the border wall.
The federal government said the $49-billion project is working. Fewer illegal immigrants are sneaking across, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said residents of Texas' border cities are now safer.
However, Brownsville resident Pamela Taylor said the wall has actually made her less safe.
"I'm outside of the wall,” said 81 year-old Taylor. “I'm on what we refer to as the Mexican side."
Taylor said she assumed the border wall would be built along the Rio Grande River, the border of Texas, but the government said because of environmental reasons and expense much of wall is not being built on the actual border.
"It doesn't make sense," Taylor said.
The section of the wall near Taylor’s home in Brownsville is nearly a mile away from the border, trapping her between Mexico and the wall.
"We feel like we've been forgotten," Taylor said. “My son-in-law asked them, 'How are we going to get out?' and they said, 'We hadn't even thought of anyone getting out.'"
The U.S. Border Patrol said getting out will not be a problem because at the top of Taylor's street is a hole in the fence. Along the Texas border there are hundreds of holes, but the government said there are no gaps in security.
The U.S. Border Patrol said the wall alone was never intended to keep people out; rather, the wall is in place to divert illegal immigrants away from neighborhoods and into the gaps where Border Patrol agents will be waiting
"We want to utilize this as a tool," said U.S. Border Patrol agent John Lopez. "It's a matter of protecting this community and the country.”
"Well, he is not protecting me," Taylor said.
Taylor said this diversion strategy has put her in the crossfire.
"We are the funnel," she said. "We don't want to kill anybody. We don't want to harm anybody, but we do have to protect ourselves."
Even before the wall, Taylor has had encounters with illegal immigrants on her land and in her home.
"I saw this person standing in my living room and then he would go and sit down and rock for awhile," she said. "I was so angry that someone had come into my home that I just came in … I was going to barrette this person."
But before she could say a word, the man took off, she said.
The U.S. Border Patrol said it has increased patrol on Taylor's street. It also monitors hundreds of cameras along the border around the clock.
"There is always going to be opposition, but our goal here to protect our country by keeping it safe," Lopez said.
It's a goal the government continues to build towards even as some point out its holes.