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Texas border town becomes hotspot for US election year

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-04 07:08

People work as razor wire fence is used in Eagle Pass, Texas, U.S., February 2, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]


Fewer than ten migrants, if any, have tried to cross the Shelby Park river segment in recent weeks, Xinhua has heard from sources who asked to remain anonymous.

In fact, Border Patrol agents, who previously used Shelby Park to process arriving migrants, can still launch their boats from the ramp in the park but they haven't tried to get full access again since it is "not necessary," Xinhua was told.

However, "just a mile north and south of the park, the border is wide open and those crossing the river are encountered, detained, and often returned to Mexico," Professor Jon Taylor, chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography with the University of Texas at San Antonio, told Xinhua.

Xinhua reporters spent approximately two hours at the border during sunrise on Friday morning but were unable to observe any migrants crossing. Notably, parallel concertina wires and barbed wire fences have created a continuous double barrier along the riverbank.

However, the presence of numerous items such as clothes, blankets, shoes, bags, combs, and SIM cards without chips left behind by migrants serves as a silent reminder, raising doubts about the effectiveness of these barriers and sparking concerns about the whereabouts of these migrants.

"These immigrants ... you know, they have the right to come because they're looking for a better life," Jesus Casas, a certified public accountant who has lived in Eagle Pass for almost 40 years, told Xinhua outside his office.

"But the problem here is that somehow these immigrants, by coming in a very unorganized way, cause problems at the business level here, and also with the residents," he said.

Casas recalled what happened in December, when thousands of migrants inundated Eagle Pass, depleting the city's resources.

"The normal way to cross the Eagle Pass bridge (between the United States and Mexico) takes probably less than 30 minutes. So you can imagine the impact of people that have been waiting for eight hours," he said.

Mexicans who cross legally make up nearly half of Eagle Pass's workforce. Many US residents also cross the river to work, according to local media reports.

"This is a very, very bad situation. I never experienced anything like it," Casas said. "I really believe that this situation needs to be worked out between the state governor and the Biden administration."

"We need to find some common ground where everybody can help each other," he further said.


"The seizing and militarization of Eagle Pass' Shelby Park is a political stunt," said Taylor.

"It's a big scam, it's political propaganda," said Juanita Martinez, chair of the Maverick County Democratic Party, on NBC News. Eagle Pass, with nearly 30,000 residents, is the largest city in the county.

The standoff between Texas and the White House has gone viral on social media for days, leading to concerns of a looming constitutional crisis and exaggerated claims of an impending so-called "national divorce."

Eagle Pass, the eye of the current storm, appears to be a cover for partisan fights focusing on this year's presidential election.

There is a heavy law enforcement presence currently in Eagle Pass from both the federal and state side and the number of migrants crossing the border has nosedived recently.

"It's primarily a political stunt by Republicans aimed at keeping immigration and border enforcement in the news," said Taylor. "They clearly have decided that immigration is their number one issue for the 2024 elections."

At the Capitol, Republican lawmakers are moving to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the House over his handling of the US border while working to kill a bipartisan border deal in the Senate after Biden vowed to "shut down the border" if illegal crossings soar on the day he signs the legislation.

"Behind the GOP opposition to any bipartisan legislation or compromises on border reforms is Trump, who has made it abundantly clear that he wants this issue to remain front and center," Taylor said.

"However, this strategy is likely not sustainable long-term ... Other issues and crises will inevitably arise during the year," he added.

"They (Republicans) claim that it's a border crisis, but not so much that it can't wait for a potential Trump presidency in 2025. That's not a winning strategy," he said.

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