Thursday, May 8, 2014

Border Fence Still Dividing Communities

FOX 29 News
May 5, 2104
by Grace White

It's a controversial part of the border, the section between the fence in America and the Rio Grande bordering Mexico that some call 'No Man's Land.'

"This is home, this is America," said Pamela Taylor, who lives across the fence.

It looks like any other neighborhood.

"We know most of the guys," she said.

There's a sense of pride.

You could call it a gated community, except that this isn't a gate, traffic comes right through.

This isn't the residents' idea of protection, it's the U.S. Government's idea of border security.

"We are the last (house)," said Taylor.

She has lived in her home just outside Brownsville for decades.

"It's been known as no man's land," said Taylor.

There's only a handful of homeowners on the other side of the fence and most have been fighting the government for years.

Some claim they've been cut-off from their country and others say they now have limited access to their homes.

The fence cuts right through Rusty Monsees' property.

"It doesn't work, there's no way it can work," said Monsees, who lives near the fence.

"No matter what happens on this side of the fence we have absolutely no control over it," said Taylor.

Border patrol agents walked us onto the other side to prove they do.

"A lot of people have the misconception that southside of the fence is 'No Man's Land,' but it by no means is that," said Danny Tirado, spokesman for U.S. Border Patrol.

Agents also took us on this ride-a-long to show us why the fence wasn't built on the actual border.

There's simply too many twists and turns on the Rio Grande to justify the cost

Even though the fence in places is a half mile north... "We have detection capabilities out there, between the river and the fence," said Tirado.

"I think they probably see it as the unofficial border," said Chris Cabrera, a spokesman for the Border Patrol Union.

Union representatives say while it does provide protection, the fence also creates challenges.

"In the not to distant past we've had some guys attacked, pretty bad, pretty bloody. Couple of guys reached for guns and tried to disarm our agents," said Cabrera.

The union says there's been talks of requiring agents to work in pairs.

"We have some agents that have been assaulted, it's not uncommon for a border patrol agent to arrest 17-20 people at a time by himself," said Cabrera.

"All this money that they've spent on this could have been better spent to improve and bring more border patrolmen," said Monsees.

Border Patrol is increasing manpower in the Rio Grande Valley because the number of people being caught coming across increased significantly from last year.

"Well they ask, well if it's so dangerous, why don't you move. Well why should I? I haven't done anything wrong," said Taylor.

So, Taylor makes the most of it, leaving sodas and water out for people passing through.

But don't mistake her generosity as an endorsement, she says what's happening on this side of the fence should concern every American.

"Whatever comes over this border they are going up north," said Taylor.

Brownsville Congressman Filemon Vela says, "Simply, I believe the border fence has been a waste of money and needs to be torn down." 

However, some argue the fence works.

The Border Patrol is catching more people as they cross over.

In 2012, the number was around 95,000.

Last year, it was 150,000.Border Fence Still Dividing Communities

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