Posted at 02:05 PM ET, 02/13/2012

Texans stuck on other side of the border fence grow anxious as gates go in

In Brownsville, Tex., some Americans ended up on the other side of the fence. And their feeling of isolation may be about to get worse.


Government contractors test a new gate in the border fence in Brownsville, Tex., in January. (Chris Sherman - Associated Press)

When a U.S. fence was completed a year ago along the Mexican border in a lush area near the Rio Grande, it left hundreds of farms, pastures and even some homes in a no man’s land, on the “Mexican” side of the divide. Within months, some property owners reported a surge of illegal immigrants, because of gaps that had been left in the fence.

Now, to better keep out illegal activity from Mexico, the government is installing 44 gates to fill those gaps. But the prospect of heavy steel gates has left many property owners feeling trapped.

Take this anecdote, about property owner Pamela Taylor, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times this month:

There was some comfort in knowing that, on the map anyway, the Rio Grande marked the international boundary. Nowadays, Taylor isn't so sure.
"My son-in-law tells people we live in a gated community," joked Taylor, 82, who shares her modest home with her daughter's family. . . .
"They said they were going to build a fence to protect all the people. We were just lost in the draw.”

Or take this story from the Associated Press, which appeared in the Brownsville Herald on Sunday. Property owner Max Pons explains how trapped he feels:

[T]he manager of a sprawling preserve on the southern tip of Texas has been comforted by a gap in the rust-colored fence that gave him a quick escape route north in case of emergency. Now the U.S. government is installing the first gates to fill in this part of the fence . . . and Pons admits he’s pondering drastic scenarios. . . .
"I need to have something that is much easier for me to have to ram to get through,” said Pons.

Pons wants something better than what officials have proposed: a punch-code system for landowners to pass through the gates.

Some property owners also worry they could become kidnapping targets for smugglers trying to pass the fence. The fence is 18 feet tall.

In Tamaulipas, the Mexican state bordering that part of Texas, violence has surged in the past two years, according to the AP. The State Department recently issued a travel warning asking U.S. citizens not to travel there.

By  |  02:05 PM ET, 02/13/2012

Tags:  National, Texas, Mexican border, illegal immigrants

 
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