EL PASO (KTSM) — For many who live in the borderland, the border barriers separating the United States and Mexico are really nothing new.
There are currently 188 miles of different border barriers in the El Paso sector, from the legacy chain link fence to steel fences and beyond.
Mount Cristo Rey, which sits at the borders of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico, is also one of them.
“The barrier is meant to be exactly that, it’s to be the obstacle for somebody who wants to come illegally into the United States,” said Agent Fidel Baca, spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol. “They are going to face this obstacle. they are going to have to get through it to come in illegally. Well, the mountain is just that, a natural barrier.”
In 1993 the U.S. Border Patrol launched Operation Hold the Line. It was designed to make agents more visible along the border, almost like a vehicle wall.
“It was open, all of this, there was nothing here,” said former Congressman Silvestre Reyes, who was also Chief of the El Paso Border Patrol sector at the time.
He ordered the blockade.
“I came up with moving the agents right up on the line, and going from chasing and arresting to acting as a force of deterrence,” Reyes said.
Chain link and mesh fences
The chain-link fence is still on a small portion of the border, but it is all being replaced by the bollard fence because the chain link is not durable.
“Somebody could just make a hole and come across,” Baca said.
One area of that fence ended up gathering trash and sand shifting the ground. At one point, the ground was taller on the Mexico side.
“On the south side, people would stand there and the fence would be chest high. agents would be on the ground because of the dirt build up and be looking up and the fence would be over them” said Dr. Victor Manjarrez, former Border Patrol sector chief.
There are also mesh fences, which are also easy to look through, but if you look at them closely, the mesh doubles up. That makes them harder to cut through.
In 2008, when Victor Manjarrez was El Paso’s Border Patrol chief, the stronger fences started being built.
“That fence is not designed to stop every single person,” Manjarrez said. “What it does, it does filter who is going to cross over a fence. More importantly, it provides law enforcement the ability to respond to an incursion.”
In some cases, the bollard fence was put in place to allow for water, sand and even trash to flow through.
It’s the hardest of all fences to cut through. The steel beams are filled with cement and rebar.
In the more rural areas with more rugged terrain and not a home for miles, you can find vehicle barriers.
“If someone does decide to walk across, we have a lot more time for us to find the entry, and react to the entry to make the apprehension,” Baca said.