Texas — all of it — belongs on the U.S. side of a border wall

Photo by Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

Every seventh grader studying Texas History learns that in 1848, the boundary between Texas and Mexico was established at the middle of the Rio Grande River. So when a congressman from Texas, like Mike McCaul, advocates for a "border" fence and wall that would cede more than 50,000 acres of irrigated Texas soil back to Mexico, it makes me wonder whether he needs to recheck a map of the state. Or relearn Texas history.

The simple fact is that you can't build a wall in the middle of a river. So the proposed border wall will be built up to two miles inland on Texas soil. It will place thousands of Texas acres, nature parks and even parts of towns on the Mexican side of the fence. In reality, it is sure to separate American citizens from America. This clear-cut consequence should be the main focus of any border wall discussion.

I'm part of an American farming family — a Texas family farming Texas soil. The proposed border wall will cleave my farm and place about 300 acres on the Mexican side. That means my family members will have to work behind the wall at the mercy of the same smugglers and cartel members the wall is meant to keep out. And it would make them targets for the very smugglers who want the gate codes that provide entrance through the wall. It also would block my family’s immediate access to fire, police and ambulance service — a harrowing, but real concern.

I support border protection. The Border Patrol protects my family. In fact, Texans living and working along the border with Mexico are the people who most depend on border protection and are most affected by illegal activity. So why would the federal government wall those very citizens off from the rest of the country? Homeland security should begin at the true border and protect all American citizens, not at some artificial border determined by decision-makers in Washington.

Ironically, Texans will pay a huge part of the billions of dollars needed for a wall that essentially gives away Texas land. I propose putting those funds toward extra agents, boats and smart technology. Instead of the roughly $24.5 million per mile a wall would cost, use advanced technology to keep our border secure at much less expense. Add federal boats to patrol the river and apprehend smugglers at the real border. And direct our hard-earned tax dollars to help rebuild what Hurricane Harvey destroyed.

Americans pledge allegiance to one nation, indivisible. And Texans pledge allegiance to one state, indivisible. Please tell your federal legislators you don't want to divide our great state with a wall that would surrender part of Texas. Because history shows that Texans don't abandon other Texans.

Becky S. Jones

Landowner, Rio Grande Valley