By Christopher Sherman
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Max Pons is already anticipating the anxiety he’ll feel when the heavy steel gate shuts behind him, leaving his home isolated on a strip of land between America’s border fence and the violence raging across the Rio Grande in Mexico.
For the past year the manager of a sprawling preserve on the southern tip of Texas has been comforted by a gap in the rust-colored fence that gave him a quick escape route north in case of emergency.
Now the U.S. government is installing the first gates to fill in the 649-mile fence along the Southwest border, and Pons admits he’s thinking drastic thoughts.
“I think in my head I’m going to feel trapped,” said Pons, who lives on the 1,000-acre property of sabal palms, oxbow lakes and citrus groves he manages for the Nature Conservancy’s Southmost Preserve.
Pons’ fears illustrate one of the complications in the government’s 5-year-old effort to build a secure barrier along the border that would keep out illegal activity in Mexico without causing worse problems for the people living in the region.