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      Staples clearing up comments calling Valley a 'war zone'

      It was a little over a month ago that Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples called the Rio Grande Valley a 'war zone' in need of tougher security.

      It was a statement that brought stigma onto the Valley, and McAllen mayor Richard Cortez said he hopes this trip to the Valley changes Staples' mind.

      On Tuesday, Staples spoke out in McAllen about those statements to clarify them.

      "We have some rural stretches that are under attack where our farmers and ranchers can't live in peace," he said.

      According to Staples, ranchers have gone to him seeking aid.

      One even spoke out on Todd's website saying, "On several occasions, we had illegal immigrants trying to break into our house. I had to hold intruders at gunpoint to save our lives."

      "I don't think anyone wants to see our neighbors chased off their own land, so we need resources in order to overcome those circumstances," said Staples.

      And while staples has made clarifications to original statements he made, McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez said they have left a stigma on the Valley.

      "It's hurting us from legitimate legal business in the way we're conducting here," said Staples.

      Cortez said no one is going to want to do business in a place referred to as a war zone.

      "It doesn't mean that the border doesn't have problems especially in the more isolated rural areas. I am sure some of those isolated areas are becoming overcome by the criminal element," said Cortez.

      But he adds the Valley has a lot to offer and is safe.

      "We just have to keep telling people that that's not true, and if anyone questions it the best way to find out is to come over yourself and find out yourself, said Cortez.

      Something he said he hopes Staples has seen by visiting McAllen.

      Staples said he wants to clear up that his initial comments were made in reference to rural areas, not urbanized areas in the Valley like McAllen.

      To see more comments by ranchers visit:

      To see a previous story by Action 4 News on Staples TM initial comments:

      To see the report with the initial comments: