South Texas towns to be affected by border wall

Border Patrol agents in South Texas have long been on the front lines of the fight to keep undocumented immigrants from entering the country illegally, but now the government is preparing for a different kind of fight. And those who live in border towns will be on the other end of that battle.

Aurora Trigo Flores' family owns a 16-acre property in Los Ebanos.

"We've suffered so much working there on those fields. We were migrants," Flores said.

Her family has owned the property for more than 100 years. Since then Flores has been blessed with 58 grandchildren.

The land, which has been passed down through the generations, backs up to the Rio Grande River.

Flores said seeing undocumented immigrants in her neighborhood used to be a regular occurrence

"They would just cross across our land and they would just say, 'Buenos Diaz,' and we would just let them go by," said Flores.

An increased border patrol presence along with some new technological upgrades has cut down on the number of people crossing to her riverbank.

"Not in our land, there's no way they can cross because it's so deep people will just fall back into the river," Flores said. 

The government isn't convinced.  In January, Flores' husband gave her the bad news

"He said you need to listen because it says here that they're going to be taking your land away," said Flores.

A letter from the U.S. government, sent to Flores under the Secure Fence Act of 2006, informed her they plan to use 1.2 acres of her property to build a border wall.

"I don't think we need this wall in this area," said Flores. 

In return, the government will pay the Flores family $2,900.

"We're going to be getting $50 per every grandchild," Flores said.

In her opinion, that's far too cheap for land so rich in history.

"We wouldn't want to sell it or give it to anyone," said Flores. 

But it seems President Donald Trump believes security is worth a little sacrifice.

"We will build a great wall along the southern border," Trump said while campaigning for President in August of 2016.

He said criminal undocumented immigrants are pouring over the U.S./ Mexico border.

"All you have to do is talk to the border patrol. They'll tell you, we have some terrible people coming in, not only from Mexico; they're flowing through Mexico, through the border. They're coming from all over," he explained while campaigning in June 2015.

About 125 miles northwest of the small town of Los Ebanos in Laredo, the mayor said he is very concerned about border security, but he doesn't support the idea of a physical wall along the Rio Grande River, instead, he suggests a different option.

"We're proposing a virtual wall," said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz. 

Saenz said it would be more practical to create additional roads close to the border to make it more accessible for border patrol. He points out that cleaning up the brush on both sides of the river would help with visibility. And believes an increased use of technology, as well as more boots on the ground, could lessen response times.

"I would say, let's try this virtual concept first and then, if for whatever reason, it doesn't work, then let's consider something more drastic," Saenz said.

But more drastic still wouldn't mean a physical wall if you ask Saenz because building that kind of structure would impact more than border security.

"We have creeks that empty into the river, we have livestock and wildlife that actually make use of the river water for drink," said Saenz.

Flores said it would threaten human lives as well because towns like Los Ebanos that sit in a horseshoe bend on the Rio Grande have been known to flood in the past.

"It's going to become a flooded area, a flooded village, there's no way that they're going to be able to stop the water," said Flores.

In that situation, Flores fears those stuck on the wrong side of the wall would have no way out.

"You will drown people," said Flores.

That's why Flores said people in Los Ebanos hope this is one promise the president doesn't keep.

"Look... it's going to happen. We have to have a wall," Trump said in January of 2017.

"In this area nobody wants a wall," Flores said. 

"It's not conducive and it's impractical frankly," said Saenz.

For those who live on the border, safety is a major concern, but so is compassion.

"Some folks don't need to be here, some folks, the bad guys so to speak, obviously we all want them out, but there's a lot of good people too that that came to this country for a better life, like most of our parents," Saenz said.

For Flores' it was her great grandparents who moved their whole lives to South Texas. Although they are long gone, their history lives on at their Los Ebanos property and Flores hopes it stays that way.

"Maybe it's going to take them 10 more years to figure out what's going to happen," said Flores.

Flores said she does not intend to hire an attorney to fight the government over her land. She does not want to spend the money in court because she said the government can take the land by eminent domain anyway.

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