Jason Buch and Lynn Brezosky
September 12, 2011

LAREDO — In the decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, property owners along the Rio Grande have lost land to the border fence and those who live near gaps in the unfinished structure are in the mouth of a funnel for illegal immigration and smuggling.

Travelers can no longer gain entry into the U.S. simply by declaring “American citizen.” Instead, they’re met with long lines, rifle-toting customs officers and an array of electronics to scan documents and vehicles.

Cross-border communities in West Texas have withered and died when the unofficial crossings they relied upon were closed. A privately run detention center holding thousands of immigrants went up in a flash near the border.

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