BROWNSVILLE -- The controversial fence along the Texas-Mexico border is receiving a multi-million dollar tax-payer funded upgrade, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
However, some Brownsville residents said it s not an upgrade but rather a waste of money.
By the end of the year, the Department of Homeland Security will install electric gates in 44 of the gaps in the fence in the Rio Grande Valley.
The project will cost taxpayers more than $10 million.
When originally built, gaps were left in the fence so US citizens could access their property that was actually on the Mexico side of the fence.
More than half of Dr. Elosia Tamez's land ended up on the other side.
I'm blocked, she said, looking through the fence. I feel trapped, entrapped and incarcerated in my own land.
However, over time the gaps not only allowed access to US property owners butaccess toillegal immigrantstrying to cross into theUnited States.
To close off this access to illegal immigrants, the federal governmentwill install electric gates in many of the gaps. Land owners will be given pass codesso they canopen the gates and still access their land as needed.
It's going to slow them (illegal immigrants)down, said US Border Patrol agent Rosey Huey. It's going to give us a tactical advantage to apprehend undocumented immigrants trying to cross.
So far five of the planned 44 gates have been installed.
Tamez said the gate closest to her home is only another barrier between her and her property, and she said she is not convinced it will keep out any illegal immigrants.
But Heriberto Chavez, who also lives just outside Brownsville along the border fence, said he feels safer with the gates.
We feel better, he said. It s very good for everyone living here on the border.
Chavez s home sits less than 100 yards from one of the gaps where a gate has been installed..
As a truck driver, he said he now worries less when leaving his family.
We do explain to our property owners that this is helping them keep safe, Huey said.
But 82-year-old Pamela Taylor said it's done just the opposite for her.
Taylor's Brownsville home is located south of the fence, just down the road from one of the gaps.
However, this gap will not receive a gate because major highway runs through it.
The Department of Homeland Security said putting a gate there would be a traffic disaster.
Ever since the government began installing the gates, Taylor said she's seen an increase in illegal immigrants cutting through her property.
Now, everyday we get as many as 11, 14, 20 people coming through here because we are a funnel, she explained.
Taylor said she predicts it will only get worse for her with more gates.
After living inthe home that her late husband built for more than 60 years, Taylor said she won t move but she said can't help but think what might happen.
We are only a block and a half from Matamoros, and you've heard what's going on over there, she said. They are chopping heads off left and right over there every day.
The US Border Patrol said extra eyes and extra agents will be added to any unclosed gaps, and the Department of Homeland Security said it's convinced the gates will help keep illegal immigrants from crossing even if some say it's only opening more problems.