In the brutal afternoon heat of South Texas, pecan farmer Magali Urbina has to deal with a frequent scene in the region: a dehydrated and injured migrant family on her property.
On the other side of her, Border Patrol agents place an IV in the arm of her father, a 32-year-old Venezuelan with deep cuts and fresh bruises. His body is swollen.
His 22-year-old wife sits beside him crying while their two children, aged 5 and 8, look on worriedly.
“It happens every day with that wire,” Urbina says, pointing to the chaotic strands of barbed wire glistening in the sun at Heavenly Farms, the property she and her husband Hugo Eagle manage in the nearby small town of .
He says, “I’ve seen it every day this week.” He explains that a few days ago he helped free a pregnant woman from a concertina wire.,
a controversial strategy
This Venezuelan family came face-to-face with the effects of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s border strategy: The Rio Grande and riverine floating barriers are surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by state and local police and the Texas National Guard,
State officials allege that the scheme, known as Operation Lone Star, attempted to prevent the illegal entry of nearly 400,000 immigrants into the United States, more than 30,000 criminal arrests and the seizure of millions of potentially lethal doses of fentanyl. Does
“Unless President (Joe) Biden reverses his open border policies and does his job to secure the border, Texas will continue to protect Texans and Americans from chaos at the border”, the leaders of the operation said in a joint statement published on 18 July.
However, this strategy has received strong criticism from the Biden administration.
White House Press Secretary Caryn Jean-Pierre recently described the alleged mistreatment of migrants by uniformed officers in Texas as “disgusting” and “disgusting.”
Caught between two fronts in this debate Eagle Pass, a small town of about 30,000 residents, is located opposite the Mexican city of Piedras Negras, on the other side of the Rio Grande.,
In Eagle Pass, officials seized one of the city’s main parks, built temporary container walls and deployed a controversial line across the river to stop the migrants, a move that has sparked local and federal lawsuits and calls from Mexico A diplomatic denunciation followed.
Critics of the floats say it is a political stunt and is unlikely to have any significant impact on the flow of migrants., Several groups have crossed the river in recent days around the barrier.
“They’ve turned Eagle Pass into a war zone,” Jesse Fuentes, the owner of a local kayak company who sued the Texas government over Bouse, told the BBC.
“I feel like I am in a tug of war between the federal and state governments., And in between is our community,” he said.
Fuentes, a retired professor, is one of the residents of Eagle Pass who says Operation Lone Star turned their lives upside down. In his case, customs officials foiled his attempt to earn more money and supplement his pension by offering him kayak tours on the Rio Grande.
He said, “My goal in life was to relax in that river and show people how beautiful it is.” “But he went to hell. It is not political for me. That’s the second P, it’s personal. I cried when I saw those obstacles”,
Nowhere in Eagle Pass is the deployment of Operation Lone Star more visible than at Heavenly Farms, the Urbina family’s 300-acre pecan farm near the river banks on the outskirts of Eagle Pass.
The outer edges of the property along the Rio Grande were taken over by state officials, who erected dikes, barbed wire, and barricaded fences in an effort to prevent migrants from entering the United States.
The Urbina family confirms that these measures were taken despite protests and pleas for both their property and the safety of migrants.,
“They are encroaching on our property and militarizing it. We can’t even enter this area,” said Hugo Urbina. “They basically stole and destroyed a piece of our property.”
Urbina said the constant movement of heavy trucks and military vehicles has affected the farm’s production levels, which he believes is due to a “constant flow of filth” into the air.
“It’s been devastating for us”, Said. “And they don’t even let the Border Patrol do their job properly. It became an unsafe situation.”
Eagle Pass residents have traditionally had a close relationship with the Border Patrol. Many residents across the political spectrum say they support a strong border, even if they disagree with Abbott’s strategy and tactics.
Pepe Aranda, a two-time former mayor of Eagle Pass who now runs a real estate agency, said, “Because of all those[migrants]who are on the streets or have been released, there are many different reactions within the community. “
“It’s very divided at the moment”,
Others point out that, although the operation changed some areas of life in the town, it also benefited some sectors of the local economy.
“This is the part no one wants to say out loud,” said a local businessman who did not wish to be named. “There’s a lot of money involved”,
For example, hotels are filled with members of the National Guard and out-of-town state troopers, while restaurants are constantly staffed by uniformed personnel.
“Complicated, I would say, is the best word to describe what is happening”, said Eagle Pass City Council member Elias Diaz. “It is a city which lacks a lot of infrastructure. Many people live in poverty.”
“We are seeing a huge amount of money being pumped into the operation. Part of it is creating jobs for people and keeping hotels full,” Diaz said. “But at the same time, it has done nothing but create chaos in trying to stop migration”,
Abbott and Texas officials ignore criticism of Operation Lone Star. They deny claims that migrants are being mistreated and vow to fight any legal challenge to their rights in court.
The federal government, for its part, has already filed a legal challenge to the river’s spillway and is investigating reports from migrants who have been mistreated.,
On the ground near Eagle Pass, some said they feared their voices would be lost amid the wider debate among politicians far from across the border.
“Talk to us,” Fuentes pleaded. “Don’t come and build walls or barriers without really knowing our territory. don’t disrespect us”,
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