Along the Rio Grande, the wall of discord

The Texans are divided on the fence wanted by Donald Trump, already partially built under Obama, but all for a control of immigration.

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US President Donald Trump (right), accompanied by border police, greets a helicopter patrolling the Rio Grande River on January 10 in Texas. LEAH MILLIS / REUTERS

Seeing the first car of the Border Police, we knew we were on the right track. Then a second, a third. Five in total. An altitude balloon seemed to be watching the area and while a buzzing helicopter was circling over the shabby and deserted village, the whole population was in church for a burial. Welcome to the meander of Los Ebanos, on the banks of the Rio Grande, near the Texas border town of McAllen. The ferry is closed because the river is in flood. But opposite, about twenty meters, it is Mexico.

At the end of the village, one enters the property of Aleida Flores Garcia, 59 years old. The last time she saw migrants under her awning was two months ago: "Honduras kids, under 20 years old. I gave them water and told them to leave. When she came back a little later, one was still there, charging his smartphone. Her husband, Jorge Garcia, called the border police, who picked up the clandestine.

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In the 1970s, this Mexican had crossed the Rio Grande and made his life in the United States. "It was illegal," admits his wife. But today, she says, "I do not turn my property into a corridor for migrants" . She wants to close her eyes, but not be an accomplice in immigration assistance, while border guards roam their property with their vehicles, as authorized by law.

The real concern of Aleida Flores Garcia is this damn wall that wants to erect Donald Trump. To be precise, the American presidents since George W. Bush in 2006. She has been fighting since she received a notice of expropriation in 2008. The wall can not marry the curves of the meander, and should cut off her property of twelve hectares in two. A tear for this woman, while the property has been in her family for over a century.

All the memories of childhood, the moments spent by the river at Easter, when there was no problem of immigration. "I'm fighting for my ancestors," she sobs. She pleads against Trump, who did not come to see her on Thursday, Jan. 10, during her visit to the Mexican border. He had been offered $ 8000 at the time for his expropriation, the file is at a standstill, it is already won.

Ecosystem destroyed

This is not the case of Marianna Wright, a few kilometers downstream of the Rio Grande. This director of a butterfly sanctuary lost the battle. "The bulldozers will be there in February. We can not stop the wall here anymore. This part of the wall was funded by a Congressional vote early in 2018, which seeks to add 25 miles of wall to the existing 20 to protect the McAllen area: it has become one of the main gateways to illegal immigration from Latin America since the wall built under Bush and Obama has largely blocked access to California, Arizona and New Mexico. (1100 kilometers of barrier for a border 3100 kilometers long).