This story was originally broadcast on a special episode of the Texas Standard called “The Wall”, an hour-long look at the prospect for an expanded border wall under the incoming Trump Administration.
Gov. Greg Abbott has described parts of the muddy Rio Grande as “serpentine regions” running through the pristine Big Bend National Park. Abbott has said he does not want to see a border wall built in the park and that there are other parts of the broader Big Bend region where a wall would be “extremely difficult” to build.
But that region is huge.
A couple hours west of the park near Presidio, Texas, alfalfa farmer Terry Bishop walks to the banks of that same winding river. He points out that you can easily toss a rock underhand and hit Mexico.
This isn’t the first time Bishop’s been faced with the prospect of a wall or fence coming through his property, and it’s not the first time he’s thought about how it would change this landscape he’s known for decades.
“As a young teenager, I used to come out in this river and go swimming,” he says. “To not even be able to get to it, or to see some kind of monstrosity out there, would be offensive.”
More importantly, he says a wall would change his livelihood and possibly even ruin it.
“If we were denied access to get down here and do our farming operations, what little farming there is down here would be gone,” he says. “You can’t grow anything in the desert without water. That’s the bottom line.”