Gaps in Border Fence to be Closed, Few to Remain Open for Legal Travel
WESLACO – It is uncertain whether the border wall will ever be complete.
Last year, CHANNEL 5 NEWS investigated what it is like to live between border fence gaps. Now, the gaps leave room for dangers federal agents cannot predict.
Border Patrol agents experience first-hand what it is like to not have adequate wall fencing.
Insufficient funds were the original reason 38 border wall gaps have been left wide open since 2008, in scattered spots around the Rio Grande Valley.
The insufficient funds are no longer the excuse thanks to $49 million.
Daniel Tirado, a supervisor with Border Patrol Valley sector, says, “It's important that we finish off the project that was started.”
Important because criminals exploit any opportunity they see, including the gaps.
“By closing these gates, or these gaps, that's going to give the agents an upper hand or better opportunity to come out and protect our borders without the smugglers coming in and out as fast as they have been. One of the latest incidents was in the Brownsville area.”
Smugglers there turned an SUV into a raft. Agents reported seeing the white Chevy, first, going through a wall gap.
To avoid being stopped, the driver later drove right into the river, before swimming back to Mexico.
Thirty-four bundles of marijuana ejected from the Tahoe; 800 pounds that were worth over $600,000.
The drugs were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Association.
Until gaps are filled, agents rely heavily on patrols and technology.
“Because of the lack of gates on the gaps, we have to resort to assigning agents to guard each gate, or substitute with some sort of detection technology to minimize that free access that the smugglers have.”
The Army Corp of Engineers will start gate work late this year to early next year. Tirado says when the gates are finally built; it will lift a heavy burden off agents.
Those with property south of the wall will still have access through the gates. Property owners will be given a passcode to dial on a keypad.
Thirty-five of the 38 gaps are funded to be closed. The other three will stay open because of constant traffic flow. Tirado says closing them would inconvenience those legally traveling through.
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