At this sprawling ranch – owned by Hugo and Magaly Urbina – on the banks of the Rio Grande, President Joe Biden‘s federal Border Patrol agents are locked in a bizarre daily struggle with Texas Governor Greg Abbott‘s Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Under a simple white tent on the farm, U.S. Border Patrol agents are processing illegal migrants and then transporting them by bus to a nearby brick-and-mortar facility.
From there they will likely be released into the U.S. interior to await judicial hearings on their asylum claims. For some, the process may take up to six years.
Just outside the property’s fence, however – between the river and the farm – Texas DPS authorities stand guard and bristle with frustration.
‘It seems that [U.S. Border Patrol is] letting [migrants] in and we’re doing our part in order to keep them out,’ DPS Highway Patrol Sgt. Rene Cordova explains to me.
Sgt. Cordova shows me fortifications they’ve built to stop migrants from crossing onto the Urbinas’ farm, but Border Patrol tore down a section of the chain link fence.
It also wasn’t helpful to Texas that the Urbinas – who leased a long stretch of their riverfront to the Border Patrol at expense to the U.S. taxpayer – dug a walkway ramp down to the river to make the steep bank more accessible.
This is nothing short of an absurd civil war of sorts pitting two American forces, one controlled by Texas and the other by Washington D.C., against each other.
And it all but guarantees that neither fully succeeds nor fails.
Governor Abbott’s response to the pecan farm facility has been swift and aggressive.
He sent state troopers to occupy the Urbinas’ land on the grounds that criminal activity was taking place.
Texas then bulldozed the river ramp, strung rows of barbed wire across it and planted a large sign that threatens a fine and reads: ‘You cannot pass here’.
When the state discovered that the Urbinas had opened gates on their property, DPS chained them shut and piled dirt high on both sides of the opening.
Now, long, straggling lines of aspiring illegal immigrants trudge up and down the river under the withering southern summer sun, laterally traversing thousands of yards of razor wire strung along the international boundary.
Down at the river, dozens of others blocked by Texas DPS officers cool themselves in the shallow waters. Still more swim back to Piedras Negras on the Mexican side of the border.