NPR logo
Border Fence Stirs Mixed Emotions
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15034078/15034071" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Border Fence Stirs Mixed Emotions

U.S.

Border Fence Stirs Mixed Emotions

Border Fence Stirs Mixed Emotions
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15034078/15034071" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Fences like the one shown will be built in towns and on farms along the border.

The Department of Homeland Security is proposing to build fences, like the one shown, through farms and towns along the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security hide caption

toggle caption U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
An example of one of the types of proposed border fences.

Another example of one type of fence proposed for the border. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security hide caption

toggle caption U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security has released details and pictures of what the fence being built between the United States and Mexico will look like.

Residents along the border are split about the proposals.

There is a perception that the border will be divided by a single monolithic fence, but Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Knocke says that is not the plan.

The border fence, he says, will vary based upon the terrain, climate and border patrol needs in the area. In some cases, the fence could be a solid sheet of metal. In others, it could be a mesh barrier. And in some cases, the fence will not be visible at all.

Knocke says the fence is not intended to stop aliens from crossing the border. Rather, it is designed to slow border crossers down long enough for Border Patrol agents to apprehend them, especially in the urban areas.

In the case of virtual fencing, which may be used along the more desolate parts of the border, sensors will alert Border Patrol agents that someone has entered the United States, allowing them to determine the best place to capture the border crossers.

To ease concerns about the environmental impact of the fence, Knocke says Homeland Security worked with parks officials, environmental groups and the Mexican government to design a fence that will have a minimum impact of the floral and fauna along the border.

Regardless of what kind of fence Homeland Security has in mind, some border residents are not interested in the barrier.

Mayor Says Fence will Hurt, not Help

Mayor Pat Ahumada of Brownsville, Texas, says he wants to block access to fence construction.

Brownsville is a border town that attracts tourists from around the United States and Mexico. Ahumada says a border fence would hurting the local economy by making it more difficult for Mexican tourists to visit his city and complicating a planned river-walk project.

"Symbolically it's the wrong message to send to our neighbors," he says.

Besides, Ahumada says, the fence will do more harm than good, making Brownsville look like a prison. And from what Ahumada has seen of the fence plans, he says he does not believe it will be an effective deterrent — not that it is meant to be.

"It's being built to appease middle America," he says.

Rather than "ramming" the fence plan down their throats, Ahumada says Homeland Security should let the border communities decide whether a barrier is necessary.

Farmer Favors Border Fence

Joe Metz does not believe Homeland Security is forcing the fence on him. In fact, the 69-year-old farmer who lives just outside Mission, Texas, thinks fence is a great idea.

The proposed fence would cut through Metz's property, and as far as he is concerned, Homeland Security cannot build it fast enough.

Metz says aliens cut across his farm every day. What was once a handful of people crossing the river and his farm, has grown to groups of 30 and 40. In recent years, Metz says, he has been run off the roads on his farm and worries that many of the people coming across the border are drug traffickers.

"It makes life miserable," he says. "It's scary."

Once the fence is up, Metz says, he expects it will make a big difference.

"Ninety-nine percent of the people who are against the fence have no idea what's going on along the river," he says.

Construction for the fence along Metz's land could begin next year.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.