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      Leaders blame lost business deals on border fence

      The controversy over the erection of a border fence continues with business groups saying it has a negative impact, while Border Patrol insists it is vital for security.

      Border Patrol said the fence is near completion in the Rio Grande Valley. So far, 45 miles out of the planned 52.12 miles have been completed.

      However, city and economic development groups said the wall is breaking some business deals for the area.

      "This wall killed a multi million dollar development, residential development and commercial development because the land is now inside the wall which makes it worthless," said Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada.

      He added that the fence goes against the principles established by NAFTA.

      One Brownsville resident with the Brownsville Economic Development Council is also blaming the face for the loss of another multi-million dollar project.

      "It was a project in the retail sector, they were planning to build some stores along the river levee, incorporate the river with that one project," Salinas said.

      The Brownsville business expert said the retail project would have been substantial for the city.

      He was unable to provide numbers, but he said it was comparable to a mall.

      "It could be several million dollars in sales tax revenue that the City of Brownsville will not be getting, pretty much because of the border wall," he said.

      But the Border Patrol said the fence is extremely important for the region's safety.

      Regional Border Patrol Spokesman Juan Lopez said the fence is already bringing benefits.

      He said Border Patrol agents are already seeing a 21 percent decrease in apprehensions so far, compared to this same time last year.

      Meanwhile, Salinas said the business in the region will adapt to the fence.

      "We're just going to have to learn to live with this wall that we have here on the border," he said.