In the Rio Grande Valley, locals are preparing for the construction of a new border wall: NPR



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Gracie Garcia poses for a photo in her garden in Los Indios, near San Benito, Texas. The border wall was built about 10 years ago on the Garcia property and she says that she was not paid for it.

Veronica G. Cardenas / Texas Public Radio


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Veronica G. Cardenas / Texas Public Radio

Gracie Garcia poses for a photo in her garden in Los Indios, near San Benito, Texas. The border wall was built about 10 years ago on the Garcia property and she says that she was not paid for it.

Veronica G. Cardenas / Texas Public Radio

Updated at 17:07 ET

President Trump 's emergency declaration will potentially release more than $ 6 billion for the construction of several hundred kilometers of gates along the southern border. One of the priority places for construction is the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where the majority of illegal crossings currently take place. Residents have strong ideas about the fence, both for and against.

Nayda Alvarez has always resided in La Rosita, a small town along the Rio Grande, between the cities of Roma and Rio Grande City. She teaches speech at a local high school and lives next to her parents.

She remembers when she opened a letter from the federal government. "You know, I have migraine since I got this letter," she said.

The letter asked Alvarez if she would allow the federal government to inspect her land for the eventual construction of border infrastructure.

She does not know what her legal options are: "It's the uncertainty behind the letter or behind everything, because you're asking questions and they do not know when or where or how and what's going to happen. ".

Nayda Alvarez poses for a photo in her yard, which is part of her family's five-generation estate along the Rio Grande, in the community of La Rosita, near Rio Grande City, Texas. Alvarez says that if the boundary wall were built as the preliminary maps show, his house would have to be demolished in order to leave the 150-foot control zone.

Veronica G. Cardenas / Texas Public Radio


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Veronica G. Cardenas / Texas Public Radio

Nayda Alvarez poses for a photo in her yard, which is part of her family's five-generation estate along the Rio Grande, in the community of La Rosita, near Rio Grande City, Texas. Alvarez says that if the boundary wall were built as the preliminary maps show, his house would have to be demolished in order to leave the 150-foot control zone.

Veronica G. Cardenas / Texas Public Radio

Topography is usually the first step before the federal government offers to buy the land. If the landowner does not want to sell, the federal government can take legal action, using its eminent domain power to seize the land.

The first letter arrived in Alvarez 's mailbox in September. Then a second arrived in November and a last, threatened by a lawsuit, followed in January.

Alvarez has not yet responded to any letter because she is busy asking for legal advice.

"I have lived here all my life," she said. "This land belonged to my great-grandparents because this area was part of Mexico. [who] let's say we could be the first generation – no, my parents and great-grandparents have been here forever. "

Alvarez questions about the need for an emergency declaration to build a wall in her garden – she says that she felt safe in her community all her life. She says she has tried to talk to local, provincial and federal government officials, including the US Army Corps of Engineers, about the impending border project.

"You ask them questions and they have no idea," she said, referring to her interactions with the Corps of Engineers of the Army. "They will not give you an answer, they'll just give you a glimpse, and they'll never give you a direct answer."

But now, Alvarez thinks he has a plan to attract the attention of elected officials.

"If they do a flyby, I have my" No Border Wall "on my roof so that they know where I am, but nobody bother to ask us," he said. declared Alvarez. "That's pretty much everything that's right or wrong, and a wall will not help, it will not work."

Gracie Garcia lives in Los Indios, a small town near the Rio Grande, near San Benito, in Cameron County. She knows how it feels to see a boundary wall built on her property. It happened to him more than ten years ago.

"It's been 10 years since they built it, and to date, we have not paid anything, we were told that they were going to pay for the property, the amount of land that they have occupied, "Garcia said.

Garcia is also from the Rio Grande Valley and lives with his four children near a wall that runs through his back yard.

"When I look at the wall, I think it's just a waste of money," Garcia said. "I really do not understand why they went that way."

Garcia said that she stayed in the area even after the wall was erected because she loved her community.

"It's really peaceful, everyone is good with everyone, the neighbors," she said. "It's quiet and it's good – it's a very good place to live in. It's comfortable."

But Ruperto Cardenas, who lives near the Rio Grande in the small town of Escobares, near Rome in Starr County, about 90 km from Garcia, welcomes the desire to create more border barriers. He said he saw people illegally entering his property from Mexico.

"I saw how people were roaming freely here," Cardenas said. "It's a fact."

Cardenas, 75, is a farmer who owns about 600 acres of land. It does not bother him that the government is cutting his property because he believes it will reduce the flow of drugs into the United States. The subject is extremely personal to him.

"It affected some of my children and I personally experienced the hell that parents experience when they have children dependent on one or the other of these drugs." said Cardenas. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, most illegal drugs from Mexico arriving in the United States arrive via legal entry points along the southern border.

Cardenas still urged the government to build a wall on his property: "I say, let's try to stop it, let's try something new, let's try this wall, because for 75 years nothing has been done. Maybe it's okay. "

Nayda Alvarez said that she did not have the luxury of a 600-acre farm.

"I'm not losing a piece of my land, I'm going to lose my house," said Alvarez. "Unlike other people who say:" Oh, I'm just going to lose the back part "- OK, you're losing the back part, but I'm going to lose my house.What are we supposed to do "It's not America, or at least not America that I know."

It is still unclear how many kilometers of border wall will be built in the Rio Grande Valley.

According to the draft law on border security adopted by the Congress and signed by the president, the Department of Homeland Security and local elected officials of the cities affected by the next border wall will have to reach an agreement on the design and construction of the border. alignment of physical barriers by September 30.

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