Valley farmers, ranchers affected by border fence

Fermin Leal

The global recession has not been particularly kind to farmers and ranchers across the country.

However, for those along the South Texan border, a slumping economy seems to be the least of their fears.

The border fence that was built to fight illegal immigration and drug smuggling has turned into a nightmare for many Americans living along the U.S./ Mexico border.

Perhaps most affected are the areas ranchers and farmers, whose typical work day now faces unique challenges.

The border fence serves as a major barrier, dividing ranchers land in two, making simple farming routines a thing of the past.

We have to go around about another mile and half the fence to check on our fields, do irrigate and check on our workers, said famer Albert Garza.

Rancher Fermin Leal agrees.

Our equipment is twenty eight to thirty feet wide and as you can see the levee is only eighteen feet. It's pretty hard to maneuver our equipment, Leal said.

The rancher's biggest fear the fence itself, portions of which contain gaps or open spaces.

They haven't told us how they're going to be closed, said Garza.

A local U.S. Border Patrol spokesperson told Action 4 News that the open spaces will be gated.

But ranchers are left wondering how the gates will work and if they will present more of a threat.

They haven't really told us what the system is going to be," said Garza. "Whether it will a key or key pad or is it going to be manned. We don't know that. With all the violence in Mexico and reports the same people living here in the US, if we get some type of key or code they are putting our life in danger."

Even with the fence's challenges, these Rio Grande Valley landowners said the border fence has it's benefits.

I think as much as there is bad there is some good, in the sense that we've seen a lot less traffic whether it be illegal aliens or border patrol," Garza said. "We've had a lot of traffic in and out of our land, now it's non-existent."

So for now these ranchers are left waiting, wondering what will become of the wall.