A Wall with Gaps but No Gates

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Landowners in Brownsville have already had to endure the destruction of their property to build an 18-foot border wall. Now all they are asking for are gates so that they can access the south side of their properties.

The Brownsville Herald has a story about the Loop Family today. This family has been farming in Brownsville for several generations. They have a beautiful piece of property along the Rio Grande where they grow citrus, sorghum, cotton, corn, soybeans, okra, and sunflowers.

Homeland Security is bulldozing their grapefruit orchards to build the wall. The wall cuts their farm in half. Not only are they cut off from half of their crops, but also half of their family lives on the south side of the wall.

The Herald reports that the Loop Family has been dealing with Homeland Security for 18 months now. Leonard Loop, the patriarch of the family, still hasn’t been told whether they will get a gate to access the south side of their property.

“They (government officials) have said something and then changed their minds,” he said. “At one point they said they would close the gates after 6 p.m.; then they said they wouldn’t. Its almost 2010 and I still don’t know what kind of gate they are going to put there…

The difficult access to the property worries Loop’s wife, Deborah, because not only will her family and workers farm land to the south side of the wall, but some of her family members live there, too.

“I’m worried about the safety of my son, (Frank). His house is on the south side of the fence (which is near completion),” said Deborah Loop. “What happens if we need emergency assistance? How long will it take for help to get there and what happens if they can’t get through the gate? Now I don’t feel so free in my own country.”

Eloisa Tamez, another Brownsville landowner, is also getting the run around from Homeland Security about whether she will receive a gate. A good portion of her land is on the south side of the wall. Without a gate, she will have to drive a few miles down the road until she can find an access point then drive back down the levee to her land.

At least Tamez can access the levee. In the Loop Family’s case, it sounds like DHS may prevent them from driving down the levee to get to their property if they don’t get a gate.

So let’s get this straight: We have a wall with huge gaps that doesn’t go through golf resorts or rich people’s properties. If you don’t have the political connections or the cash you get an 18-foot wall with no gate to access your property on the other side. It’s just jaw gaping stupid and outrageous what DHS is doing to landowners in Brownsville.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. She has a master’s in public health from Texas A&M University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.