Texas Town Lives in Fear From Mexican Drug Violence

Fort Hancock, Texas -- Residents of this tiny Texas town say they're living in fear that Mexican drug cartel violence could spill over into the United States at any moment.

Locals here say they've seen a recent increase in illegal immigrants simply walking across the border and disappearing into the town, which lies just four miles from El Porvenir, Mexico, and 50 miles southeast of Ciudad Juarez, where 2,300 people were killed last year alone.

"A lot of the citizens here have family in El Porvenir and are concerned for their safety," said James Irby, vice president of the Fort Hancock Water Control & Improvement District. "I still go anywhere I want to with no problems, because the violence hasn’t come over yet. But it could at anytime."

Irby, who has been living in Fort Hancock for 19 years, said he’s noticed an increase in police patrols near the town’s schools following reports of suspicious individuals lurking nearby.

"They just walk across the border, right up my street," said Irby, 69, who lives close to Fort Hancock High School. "There has been an influx of people coming over from Mexico."

Other residents , meanwhile, say they refuse to live in fear. But nearly all residents interviewed by FoxNews.com said they're paying closer attention to who comes in and out of town.

"I know it’s getting bad over there," said Frank Potts, 54. "I'm a little scared, but I’m not too worried."

Potts, who lives alone, said he’s been listening for gunshots at night emanating from the Mexican border. He said the current climate is the worst it’s been in his five years in town.

"There is fear," he said.

At Angie's Restaurant, home of a great chicken fried steak and Fort Hancock's unofficial town hall, diners provided opinions as varied as the menu.

"We haven’t seen [violence] here, but it’s a matter of time that it's going to come over," said Denny Chavez, a foreman at a local farm. "There's a lot of activities that go on at night that we don't know about."

"You're better off not knowing," Chavez's wife, Tracy, said.

Another diner, Terry Rose, called for an increased border presence by the National Guard and said he was frustrated with the current immigration debate, particularly regarding calls for amnesty.

"With so many people moving in from Mexico, some of them are going to be bad people," Rose said. "So, the potential [for violence] is there."

Some residents said they didn't want to comment on the situation due to fears of reprisal.

"People don't want their names in the paper," one local woman said. "We're all scared."

Despite the worsening situation here, residents said they had no plans to relocate.

"It's a generational thing," said Chavez. "I don’t think it’s very feasible to pack your bags and go."

Art Hernandez, an 84-year-old convenience store clerk, said he has faith in the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Office.

"We have plenty of lawmen here," Hernandez said. "The law is sold to the [drug cartels] in Mexico, but here, the lawmen follow the law. So I'm not worried."