Recently a friend from D.C. came to visit me, and among the things he wanted to know about was local politics; somehow it led to a discussion on Homeland Security, its impact on local politics, and how the local community felt about the rapid building [and subsequent ugliness] of the Border fence.
But I told him that we couldn’t just talk about it, we had to go see it.
In the past couple of weeks the Fence construction has sped up rapidly, DHS wants to complete as much as possible before Jan 20, 2009.
I drove on the Border Freeway, showing my friend exactly how far along the construction was. And randomly enough we saw a group of people protesting at the corner of Yarbrough.
By the time we parked and walked over to the Fence the protest was ending [the United Farm Workers and the Sacred Heart Catholic Church were the ones who organized the whole event]. But we ended up talking to a Vietnam war veteran who had protested this section of fence since August.
The man took us up to the Fence. I was nervous, you know trespassing and such, but I was assured by the priest who had helped organize the event that the Border Patrol agent wouldn’t arrest me.
[isn’t it a beauty?]
The vet explained that even if you were able to scale the 15 ft fence you would fall another 5 ft into the water, then if you survived the notoriously strong undercurrent, the angle on the ditch would make it almost impossible to get out of the canal, even then you would have to scale another fence with barbed wire on it. [the church claims its designed to kill/harm.]
[after we started walking away the border patrol agent opened the gate and just stared at us.]
What is most annoying about this fence is not the polarizing affect its had on my community [people are fiercely divided, often along party lines;] but the sense of futility it has brought. It seems like no matter how many protests there are, no matter how many laws DHS has to waive, and no matter the number of lawsuits we try to wage the Fence will not be stopped.
+Just the 153 miles planned to be completed by the end of the year in Texas surpasses the infamous Berlin Wall by over 60 miles.
+Texas border mayors and businesses have formed a coalition against the fence, Texas Border Coalition, and is taking legal action by suing DHS
+The Feds have 102 lawsuits against people refusing to turn their land over to the government. Including a lawsuit against the City of Eagle Pass, TX for refusing to hand over a public park to the government. “We will not sit idly by while our property is seized by the federal government to build an expedient, but useless, expensive and potentially damaging wall across the Texas-Mexico border,” said Chad Foster, mayor of Eagle Pass, Texas.
+The Texas Border Coalition alleges that Chertoff ‘gave preference to politically connected land owners from having to turn over their property to build the fence while coercing others to sign waivers.’ For instance, there are no plans to build the border fence through the property owned by Dallas billionaire Ray L. Hunt and his relatives. Hunt is an oil magnate and close friend of President George W. Bush and recently donated $35 million to Southern Methodist University to help build Bush’s presidential library.
+The latest victim of the Fence is the Rio Bosque wetlands Park, a park designed to recover the wetlands that used to exist in the El Paso desert region. The City of El Paso in conjunction with the University of Texas at EP, has been working for ten years to foster the ecosystem that is spread across the US-MX border, the Fence will cut off migratory patterns for all animals in the park. DHS waived more than 30 federal environmental laws to build in the nature park.
+December 10, 2008: the County of El Paso files an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging Chertoff’s authority to waiver 30 federal laws.
+December 16, 2008: DHS starts construction of the Fence in the Rio Bosque Wetlands, in protest a woman halts the construction for 8 hours by refusing to leave the construction site.
+Ironically, GAO finds that Border security remains weak. Their study concluded that “as many as half of the United States’ estimated 12 million illegal immigrants entered the country not by sneaking across the border but by evading detection at the 326 legal ports of entry or by overstaying visas.” They found that Border Patrol agents often engage “in waving through vehicles without required interviews and letting traffic pass as officers changed shifts and logged on to their computers.” [Peachy.]
In all likelihood, the next Secretary of Homeland Security will slow and possibly stop the construction altogether [fingers crossed].