Border rancher ready to give up land for wall

ROMA, Texas (FOX 26) — Ruperto Escobar's land has been in his family for more than 250 years. 

"This river was not always a border," said Escobar, looking over at the Rio Grande River. "It became the border between the United States and Mexico at around 1848." 

The 600-acre ranch is around 55 miles northwest of McAllen and backs into the river.

Escobar said he has seen it used to smuggle everything from people to drugs to fryers.

"I'll be 75 next month, I've seen so many things, both ways," Escobar told FOX 26 News.

Once, Escobar said, his land was taken by criminals.

"There [were] two men that were heavily armed and they told my workers, 'You men need to leave. Go back to where you came from. We are confiscating this place tonight. We need it,'" recalled Escobar.

To survive, he let them go.

"If I call the police, those armed people there are going to know who called them and I don't want be a target tomorrow or any other time I come to this river," said Escobar.

Until a recent increase in border patrol agents on the ground and aerial surveillance, Escobar said he would see migrants or smugglers trespass everyday.

But despite the help, the rugged land shows the wear of the constant traffic. Escobar said he stopped fixing the gates after were trampled on during pursuits. He hopes a border wall would change that.

Surveyors have already been on Escobar's property. He said he wishes the President would have come to see him during his trip to the border in January.

"I would tell him, 'Mr. President, you're right on the money. Get this done,'" said Escobar.

The wall would cut right through his family's land, but Escobar said as long there is a gate for him to access the river and he is well-compensated, he's okay with it.

Escobar said he understands that most drugs come through the major ports of entry, but the idea that any of them have or could cross through his property is enough for him.

"If this is going to be for the benefit of my country and for the benefit of so many families throughout this great country of ours that are suffering because of illegal drugs, a little piece of land 150 feet wide is not going to hurt anybody," concluded Escobar.

FOX 26 also visited a nature preserve in Mission, Texas. Read the director's case against a border wall by clicking here.

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