BROWNSVILLE, TX – A border wall has been one of Donald Trump’s biggest promises during his presidential campaign and a topic that was discussed during the final debate. It's a proposal that would directly impact the people living along the border.
It’s been a decade since congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 that erected a 650 mile-long structure along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
People who live near it call it a wall, or a fence, and it has divided communities, not just physically, but politically as well.
“I don’t care what it’s called. It’s useless,” longtime border resident Pamela Taylor said.
Taylor lives between the fence and the border. She has dealt with illegal immigration since moving Brownsville from England nearly 50 years ago.
The 88-year-old has always been a vocal opponent of the barrier; not so much because of its purpose, but because she thinks the fence has not been effective.
To show her opposition, Taylor put up a sign at the entrance of her property that reads: “We’re part of America. We need representation and protection. Not a fence.”
“It’s our way of protesting," Taylor said. “And it goes to show the fence is not working and all those millions of millions of illegal aliens would not be in America today if that fence were working.”
She believes the fence was a waste of money.
"And if Donald Trump thinks he’s going to throw millions and billions of dollars into another one, you have to think, if this is not working, the other one is not working,” she said.
But on the other side, supporters of Trump’s proposed wall believe otherwise.
“With the exception of Mr. Trump, nobody in the presidential campaign has ever spoken about national security. Many have spoken about immigration reform but none have spoken to secure the actual border,” said Chris Cabrera, the local 3307 vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Cabrera has been with the border patrol for 15 years. He belongs to the same union that endorsed Trump last year. He argues that the wall helps bottle-neck traffic, but says that it’s just one component of the overall plan needed to secure the border.
“The simple solution right off the bat is enforce the laws that are on the books. We’re releasing about 80 percent of the people coming across,” he said. “So with that, people are going to continue to cross.”
He added that only after the border is secure can immigration reform cbe achieved.
However, one thing both Taylor and Cabrera seem to agree on is their feeling that Washington is not paying attention to those who live and work on the border.
“They have no idea. They have absolutely no idea,” Taylor said.
Even though the Border Patrol employee union endorsed Donald Trump, Cabrera said that it doesn’t mean all 16,000 agents agree with the candidate’s plan to turn the fence into a continuous wall; a plan that is more complicated than it sounds, as it would affect many residents like Taylor.
(© 2016 KENS)