March 24, 2008 — It takes less than ten minutes to make the trip across the Rio Grande on the Los Ebanos ferry. With space for three cars, the raft skims at a stately pace over green river water, propelled only by the strength of the men who pull it.
David Ramirez, the owner of Los Ebanos Ferry Depot, says tourists from all over use the last ferry crossing on the southern border to take short trips into the Mexican town of Diaz Ordaz. It is also vital for local people who cross to shop, work or visit family.
Since 2001, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has moved to close many smaller border crossings, like Los Ebanos. The Department Homeland Security is currently surveying the area around the ferry as it finalizes plans to construct a border fence in the region.
Alejandro Ramirez (no relation to David) has worked the ropes of the ferry for four years. He says he, and the other men who pull the ferry, must sometimes fish out the corpses of would-be undocumented immigrants who drown while attempting to cross the river.