Border fence construction to begin amid public outcry in Texas

Staff Report

The Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas (AP) - It's been a year of protests, outcry, and worry for Texans opposed to a federal plan to build more than 80 miles of steel border fencing along the Rio Grande.

In meeting after meeting, city leaders and residents from Brownsville to El Paso have begged the feds to rethink the fence plans. Those plans call for 26 sections of 15-foot-high, two- or three-layer fencing that can withstand a hit from a 10,000-pound vehicle going 40 miles per hour.

Despite the pleas, U.S. Homeland Security officials say the fence project should be done by the end of 2008.

Some South Texas residents and elected officials have tried to block the government's progress by refusing to let surveyors come on border properties to look at land that could be the site of new fencing.

Since then, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has sent letters to South Texas officials and land owners warning that continuing to refuse access will lead the department to ask for a court order. The letters also allude to the government's plan to use eminent domain if they can't negotiate a deal to buy land.