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ZAPATA (CBS11) – CBS11 is in the South Texas border town of Zapata, where folks say they have a different solution to the illegal immigration problem and it doesn’t involve a wall.

The City of Zapata is home to about 14,000 people.  Most of the residents are ranchers or small business owners.

Joe DeAnda sells candy apples right of the city’s main drag.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to have a wall in this kind of place here,” said DeAnda.

DeAnda said for generations his community has coexisted with their neighbors to the south of the border without any barriers or fear.

“We’re used to going back and forth and our ancestors always have been to the border and back,” said DeAnda.

Just down the road from his candy apple stand, sits a diner known for its chicken fried steak and a healthy serving of local opinion.

There, CBS11 found Sotero Ramirez, a 77-year-old rancher who was born and raised in Zapata.

“There has to be a limit to it. You cannot just open the gates and let them come in,” Ramirez said regarding Mexican immigrants.

Ramirez agrees something needs to be done about illegal border crossings, but he, too says a wall isn’t the solution.

“If you stop hiring illegals they probably won’t come back,” suggested Ramirez.

He said most undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. looking for work.

Ramirez said he believes stricter penalties for employers who hire them will have a much greater effect on reducing illegal entries into the U.S. than any physical barrier.

“If you make a 20 foot wall they have a 22 foot ladder. They can just jump so I don’t think that is the solution,” said Ramirez.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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