El Paso passes resolution against border wall

In El Paso County, TX, commissioners voted 3-to-1 May 5 for a resolution demanding a halt to construction of the border wall, asserting it would interfere with the region’s long-established way of life. Thousands cross the border daily between El Paso and Juárez on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, including students who attend classes in Texas. Commissioner Miguel Terán introduced the resolution, calling construction of the wall an act of racism. Although terrorist suspects have been arrested crossing the border with Canada, “we’re not building walls over there,” he said. “We’re building them here.”

Among 18 speakers who supported the resolution was county attorney José Rodríguez, who recommended that commissioners direct his office to investigate the impact of a border fence in this area. “You’re joining the ranks of many communities across the country that are saying we’re not going to be part of this anti-immigrant movement,” he said.

In Hidalgo County, at the other end of Texas near the mouth of the Rio Grande, county officials learned that day that $65.7 million of federal funds have been approved for the barrier, which will in that section double as a flood wall atop a levee financed by local bonds. A cooperative agreement between the county and the Department of Homeland Security calls for the county’s flood control district to pay $48.2 million of the $113.9 million project. Local activists with No Border Wall oppose the Hidalgo County plan.

To speed development of the 670-mile wall that will cut through wildlife refuges and national parks, Homeland Security on April 1 waived 36 laws with Congressional approval. “The Bush administration’s latest waiver of environmental and other federal laws threatens the livelihoods and ecology of the entire US-Mexico border region,” Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement in response to the action.

At a hearing in Brownsville last week, US Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D-El Paso) and the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands heard from border patrol officers and others affected by the construction of the wall. “From the testimony we heard today, it is clear that DHS is not communicating with the border communities that would be most adversely affected by this project,” Reyes said. (The Bond Buyer, New York, May 7)

See our last post on the struggle for the border.

  1. More litigation against border wall
    From the New York Times, May 21:

    NACO, Ariz. — As the Department of Homeland Security pushes to complete 670 miles of fencing along the Mexican border by the end of this year, it is confronting the sharpest resistance yet while conceding that physical barriers alone do not stop illegal crossings.

    In the latest challenge, the Texas Border Coalition, an organization of mayors, county commissioners and economists opposed to the fence, filed a federal lawsuit on Friday. It says that the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, failed to conduct required negotiations with property owners and local authorities when he ordered that the barrier be built in Texas. The group wants the construction halted.