On his next visit to our southern border, President Trump should stop by the municipal golf course in Eagle Pass, Texas, where he might gain some perspective on security and ride the only cart trails ever widened to accommodate law enforcement vehicles.
He also might be able to cheat without anybody minding too much.
That part of the border is already secured by a 14-foot steel fence anchored in concrete that happens to run between the town and the course.
As in other secured stretches along the Rio Grande river, the government decided this barrier had to be placed well inside American territory due to periodic flooding.
Eagle Pass filed suit against the plan back in 2008, noting among other things that it has a close and harmonious relationship with its sister city of Piedras Negras. Proof of that comes with an Abrazo de la Amistad (Embrace of Friendship) ceremony at the border each spring.
“Where Yeehaw! meets Olé!” boosters like to say of the bond.
But a federal judge ruled in favor of the government’s cleaving fence plan so swiftly that some wondered if he had even read all the papers. The government did agree to move the fence so that it did not also close off the surrounding Shelby Park, as was initially proposed. The park is the site of the first American settlement on the Rio Grande, in 1848.
But the golf course remained cut off. A remedy came in the form of two large gates that allowed golfers entry and exit.
“They can still go play golf and everything,” Juan Cuellar, the town’s director of parks and recreation, told the Daily Beast on Monday.
A further remedy reduced the inconvenience to near zero.
“The gates are always open,” Cuellar said.
Cuellar has witnessed no hordes of undocumented felons pouring through.
“I haven't seen any sinister criminal activity,” he said. “It's just normal. It’s pretty safe.”
He allowed, “We do see illegals crossing once in a while.”
Most are spotted by the thousands of surveillance cameras in the area or by the Border Patrol, which makes use of the golf cart trails that were widened to accommodate its vehicles as part of the overall deal between the government and Eagle Pass. Some who are not immediately apprehended are apparently asylum-seekers and have approached Cuellar indicating they want to be arrested.
“Hey, can you call the police for me?” they ask.
They then ask something like, “Can I have some chips and soda?”
Cuellar will reply, “Yeah, sure.”
During the recent shutdown, Cuellar did see a government work crew at the gates.
“Trying to move them,” he said. “Maybe they wouldn’t move because they were rusted.”
An Eagle Pass Golf Association board member, Adair Ibarra, told The Daily Beast that he has watched illegals cross via the course roughly once every three months in the 14 years he has been there. He also noted that most of them are caught, though this is one place on the border where there are no motion sensors.
“Because we would be setting them off when we play golf,” Ibarra said.
He has not witnessed the dire emergency our president conjures.
“Eagle Pass never has been threatened by illegals or overrun by illegals,” he said.
He did not say so, but until the Trump National golf course in Westchester County fired a dozen undocumented workers in recent days, the odds of encountering an illegal on that New York course were much greater than at Eagle Pass on the border.
Ibarra said that the Eagle Pass golf course is presently facing another kind of crisis, one that should evince some sympathy from even a golf club owner as empathetic as Trump.
“Right now, the greens are in dire straits,” Ibarra said.
The cause is brackish groundwater that has been turning them brown.
“We just need to get the green green,” he said. “With grass, though, not being painted.”
Trump would no doubt prefer lusher surroundings, but Barr said the president is always welcome to play a round at Eagle Pass.
“Most definitely,” Ibarra said.
The condition of the greens aside, Trump might like Eagle Pass’ tolerant attitude toward cheating such as our president has long been known to engage in.
“There’s a lot of foot wedges, and a lot of cheating,” Ibarra said of the tournaments at Eagle Pass. “You ever see the movie Caddyshack? That foot wedge never fails.”
He reported that the Eagle Pass Golf Association does seek to maintain some integrity with a mitigating measure, one such as the Trump administration would do well to emulate, but has yet to manage.
“Have one honest person there to keep the other ones honest,” he said.