Starr Co. Residents React to New Border Wall Plans
ROMA – The U.S. Custom and Border Protection acting deputy commissioner announced a border wall is scheduled for construction in Hidalgo and Starr counties.
Twenty new miles of a new levy wall are planned in Hidalgo County and an eight-mile "border wall system" consisting of technology and infrastructure is planned for Starr County.
But people in Starr County have different perspectives of the proposed new border wall.
"I'm against the wall,” said Roma resident Alonzo Alvarez.
Resident Jesse Garza differs.
"Yes, it would deter them to other areas,” he told us.
We asked Garza to tell us about the activity he sees living by the border. Just then, he stopped and pointed at a Roma Police Department unit.
"Right by the border? You see right now, perfect timing," he said.
The Roma Police unit drove by. We learned it had come from the direction of a scene unfolding by the Rio Grande.
A woman, who had collapsed on the ground due to heat and exhaustion, was wheeled into an ambulance.
Border patrol agents said she was part of a larger group of people who had illegally crossed the border. They said they only detained three and were still looking for the rest.
The residents added this activity isn't news for the people who live close to the border.
"We get that every five minutes, the Border Patrol, the local police, the sheriff's department,” Garza said. “The Border Patrol stationed themselves around the corner up there, and down over here. So, we're safe."
Alonzo Alvarez, an advocate against the border wall, agrees on the benefits of cooperating agencies.
"On drug smuggling, I think they're going an excellent job. I live here. I don't worry about it. We're safely protected,” he says.
On the other hand, Garza believes a wall could help when law enforcement isn't around.
"Right at the time that it gets dark, that's when they come,” he said. “These guys have to take a break. They go to the Stripes, do their needs, get a sandwich or whatever, and somebody is looking out. 'Hey, they're gone, man.' Boom. Bring em' across."
Alvarez told us he has property along the border.
"It's about four to five acres of land accessible to the river,” he said.
He said a wall between him and the border could limit access to a resource – the Rio Grande.
"That's the lifeblood of the whole Valley right there. And then it comes out here. Who does it belong to? It belongs to all of us," he said.
And for Garza, the wall may not be enough.
"It's a good idea, but there's pros and cons for everything,” he said. “Really, it's not the answer for illegals coming across because where there's a will, there's a way.”
The location is not being announced at this time.
Garza and Alvarez said they’re hoping their perspective pushes through.
Hidalgo County made it public. The county's official stance is it’s opposed to the border wall. They sent the following statement, which reads in part:
“The County of Hidalgo is opposed to any type of border wall, as expressed in a resolution that was passed by the Drainage District Board of Directors on May 2, 2017 and in a letter sent to Congressman Michael McCaul and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly on the same date last year.
Hidalgo County's stance is that any type of border wall will have little impact on illegal immigration, while hurting relations with Mexico, which is Texas' largest trading partner, as well as taking away or breaking up privately-owned land, taking way access to the river and harming the natural habitat for migrating wildlife and endangered species.”