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Latino Daily News

Tuesday December 28, 2010

Texas Border Fence Draws Closer to Completion at $748 Million Cost

In Hope Park, Texas, as the final piece of a border fence goes up, many look at it with disgust, and it’s not just immigrant advocates either.

The fence at the U.S.-Mexico border was created to keep illegal immigrants out, but now even those that were initially in favor of the fence say it’s been a waste of money, and has ruined what was once a beautiful landscape.

Hope Park was originally created to commemorate a friendship between the United States and Mexico, but as the fence goes up, the friendliness seems to be dwindling.

Texas land owners whose property is along the border were approached by federal contractors and asked to hand over parts of their land so the fence could be built. People like Eloisa Tamez, whose family has owned the land since 1767, say the federal government has ignored her refusal to give up the land, and are now suing her to attain it. Her court proceedings with the Department of Homeland Security began in 2008 and continue through today.

Then there are landowners like Rusty Monsees. A hard-lined supporter of the fence when initially presented with the idea, he agreed to sell 3.3 acres of his land to the government.  However, now that the fence has been built across his former property, he is upset to see that it now cuts off access to some of his remaining acreage.  Looking at the destruction of flora and fauna the building of the fence has caused, Monsees, like many others, views the whole project as a waste, and points out that without proper support, the fence is pointless.

“It was a bad use of money. When [government officials] asked me about the fence initially, I said I thought it was a good idea. But if you do not follow up, [illegal immigrants] learn to get around it. You have to have people on the ground, and you have to have them on the ground every day, 24 hours a day in specific areas for patrol.”

The cost of the Texas-border pedestrian fence is roughly $6.5 million per mile, and the sections of fence made specifically to keep out motorized vehicles is $1.8 million per mile. In all, the border fence is expected to cost $748 million in Texas alone.

Those against the fence from the start say the unity that Hope Park was intended to inspire among Mexico and the U.S. is now lost by this fence, and immigrant-turned-legal-U.S. citizen Justo Ahumada, 84, says he is saddened by the loss of opportunity for other immigrants just trying to make money to support their families by crossing and working on this side of the border saying, “What a shame for the people coming to look for work these days.”