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Neighborhood Reacts to Border Shooting

The shooting of a 15-year-old alleged human smuggler by a Border Patrol agent has thrust the border community into the national spotlight, but the fallout for those who live just steps away from where the shooting took place remains largely in the shadows. No community, at least on the U.S. side of the border, has felt the impact more than the people who live in the Chihuahuita neighborhood.

“We’ve seen a lot of stuff, I mean, a lot,” said James Del Campo, a resident in the area for nearly 30 years. “We used to look over and there was water right there and we used to see bodies floating.”

“It’s kind of normal now to see two or three, even up to 15 guys jumping the border,” Saul Gandara said. He was born and raised in the neighborhood. “We see that stuff daily, so we’ve gotten used to it.”

These are old problems in an even older neighborhood in South El Paso, but last Monday’s deadly shooting of a 15-year-old Mexican teenager by a border patrol agent is presenting new challenges.

“Before we’d leave the kids playing around,” Del Campo said. “Now we have to take care more of the kids. We gotta be here.”

Chihuahuita residents literally live and hang out just steps away from where that deadly shooting took place, just over this border fence near a canal on the other side. Now, the stepped up enforcement of the border patrol is changing causal Sunday afternoons in the park.

“They’ll stop the game, ask us for our ID, and clarify our residences,” Gandara said.

Residents say they’ve noticed a swarm of agents patrolling the once quiet dusty roads in their neighborhoods. We spotted unmarked vehicles camped out along the border with agents in civilian clothing inside.

“I don’t mind,” Gandara said. “They’re doing their job.”

Residents say their presence is really a big help this little neighborhood could sure use.

“A lot of us don’t even know what to expect now,” Del Campo said.

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