The facility, which is 21 years old and 35 acres in size, can hold as many as 4,400 head of cattle on any given day.

Manzanares came on board five years ago when much of the facility looked like desert. Now, there are rows and rows of pens and throughways for the cattle to be driven or culled.

In the past five year, more than $1 million in improvements have been put into the facility, which is owned by a co-op of Mexican ranchers, the Union Ganadera Regional De Chihuahua CO-OP Inc. A USDA grant of about $50,000 was used to install new cameras.

"We're completely under security surveillance at all times,'' Manzanares said.

"This is amazing,'' said Bill Mattiace, executive director of the New Mexico Border Authority, which oversees every port along the state's border. "If you see pictures of what this used to look like, it's really come along.''


The USDA works on the Mexican side of the border and has an office to inspect all the animals and make sure they are free of ectoparasites and ticks. They conduct TB tests and ensure the animals' tag numbers are correct with the paperwork.

Conversely, on the U.S. side, Mexican health officials inspect anything going into their country.

"We have to maintain a certain animal health level,'' Manzanares said. "If for any reason they have a question, they will not let the animal come across.''

He said that he has about nine to 25 workers on hand, depending on the time of year and how many cattle are crossing, but he tries to keep as many as he can to help with maintenance work.

He said most of his workforce are Mexican Americans with U.S. citizenship, and there are a few legal residents from Mexico there to work.

The bottom line is it is very hard to find Americans who want to work anymore,'' Manzanares said. "I'm an American, but ... they'll work here maybe a paycheck, maybe two paychecks and then they're gone.''  end mark

—AP Newsfinder