LatinaLista — Mention homeland security and the immediate argument has been to “secure our borders.” The implication is always the U.S/Mexico border. Somehow we’ve allowed the mindset that scary people, aka terrorists, don’t come from Canada.
That perception is further enforced by the Minute Man vigilantes and politicians like CA-Republican presidential candidate, Duncan Hunter, who has taken credit for the building of the fence in San Diego and is pressing for it to be finished across the rest of the U.S./Mexico border.
The only trouble with this part of the homeland security strategy is that unlike other parts along the U.S./Mexico border, the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas don’t just like their Mexican neighbors, they’re bound to them through “sickness and in health.”
There is probably no better example of how deep the ties are that exist between the Mexican and Texan border towns than what has come to light with Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made it known that in 2005 there was a dengue fever outbreak in Brownsville. The CDC reports that the outbreak just didn’t affect Brownsville residents but Matamoros residents as well.
More than a third of Brownsville residents and three-quarters of the people across the border in Matamoros were affected. The original carrier of the disease was a woman who had been a 16-year resident of Brownsville.
The CDC, not worrying about securing the border from terrorists but more concerned with the transmission of such a dangerous disease recommended that:
Health authorities along the Texas-Tamaulipas border should consider strengthening surveillance for dengue fever, given the potential for future outbreaks with increased risk for DHF.
Being on the lookout for the disease would be really hard if the fence Congress proposes be built along the border is installed.
Though some would argue that the fence would keep out the fever, that would not be the case at all. If anything, the fence would diminish the kind of interaction and cooperation that these two border towns have historically enjoyed.
Unlike in other areas along the border, Texas border residents are fighting back against constructing such a fence.
In a USA Today column of mine published today, I outline some of the measures this resistance effort has taken in organizing to make their voices heard in Washington.
What is so unique about this resistance is that environmentalists and activists have joined together with politicians and academecians and everyday residents to make it clear that a border wall is not the answer, nor a solution.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley communities have come up with viable options for Washington — the only problem is that Washington doesn’t want to listen to them.
So on August 25, a historic event will take place in this region.
It’s called Hands Across El Rio and its a binational effort to show Washington that Mexico nor US border towns in Texas want a manmade divide.
Who would want a 21st century version of the Berlin Wall? Especially in their backyard?
As one editor asked me, “Don’t they want to stop illegal immigration?”
The difference is that while the rest of the country has been drilled into thinking that the country is under attack, the reality of it is that the border culture — which includes the ongoing flow of movement of both man and animal across border lines — is a way of life that has always been shared between sister communities.
A fence is simply an ugly reminder of where the physical border stands.
Some involved in pointing out Washington’s Border Folly here have put up a web site called No Border Wall.
Washington should take heed.
As the saying goes, “History repeats itself.”
Remember the Alamo?