Our own government apparently plans to turn Texas and the Rio Grande Valley into a new Berlin, divided by a wall -- a wall thorougly destructive of the communities which it splits and the land which it occupies. I know I am not alone in finding this an extremely repulsive concept.
From the Express-News today:
Construction of nearly 70 miles of border fencing in the Rio Grande Valley is scheduled to begin as early as next spring, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday, spawning renewed cries that local officials are being shut out of the controversial plan.
Though the final design won't be approved until the close of the public comment period, which ends Oct. 15, the agency said the fence will be at least 16 feet high and 3 to 6 feet below ground, capable of withstanding vandalism, cutting and penetrating, as well as a crash of a 10,000-pound vehicle traveling 40 mph.
Border community leaders were surprised, disappointed and even angry over the government's announcement of the environmental study.
"We continue to be confused and bewildered, and I don't think it's by accident," said Chad Foster, mayor of Eagle Pass and chairman of the Texas Border Coalition, a group of leaders from El Paso to Brownsville. "They've never been open. They've never been above board. There's never a good time for a bad idea, but at least they're consistent about that."
The wall will consist of 21 segments, which will range from 1 to 13 miles, along the border near Rio Grande City, McAllen, Mercedes, Harlingen, Brownsville and Fort Brown.
The agency said it would clear vegetation to build temporary access roads and construction staging areas, which will affect a swath of about 60 feet, stretching along the 70 miles.
"They're supposed to be working with us, but instead they are running it down the throats of the residents of Brownsville," said Pat Ahumada, mayor of Brownsville.
The construction also will affect portions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which has raised concerns among environmentalists, who fear the fence will destroy riverfront wildlife habitat that attracts thousands of eco-tourists from all over the world.
The environmentalists also say the fence could cut access to the Rio Grande for endangered species, such as ocelots and jaguarondi, destroying one of the most biologically diverse regions in the country.
For more information and for info on how to help fight the Border Wall, see the No Border Wall website at notexasborderwall.com.