LatinaLista — Past responses to stories posted on Latina Lista regarding the fight South Texans are putting up against the Department of Homeland Security in building the congressionally appropriated border fence have not always been kind to the residents.
Some people can’t understand why simple landowners, who have had their property in their family since a King of Spain deeded it to their ancestors and have little else of value, wouldn’t want to willingly donate it to the government for the sake of border security.
Father and son peer through a portion of the US/Mexico border fence.
Well, now comes an interesting revelation that shows just how much big business and big money are more than contributing factors in determining where the border fence goes.
One hint: It’s not going through the properties of those who can most afford to lose a chunk of land.
In an article titled “Holes in the Wall” by reporter Melissa Del Bosque of The Texas Observer, the reporter poses a simple question to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (and one that has been asked repeatedly by the Texas Border Coalition) how was the land chosen as to where the fence would be built?
Sounds like a reasonable question and one that should have ready answers with blueprints to illustrate the decisions and even a press release to go along with it, but, surprise, surprise — no.
Sharyland, a Texas Valley land development created by billionaire Ray Hunt untouched by border fence construction.
Everyone wants to know why it’s so imperative to border security to knock down the house of 76-year-old Daniel Garza, along with, a small, yellow house he gave his son, to build a fence that stops just a few yards beyond his property at the point where land owned by Dallas billionaire Ray Hunt begins.
Or why the family-inherited land of 72-year-old Eloisa Tamez must be sacrificed while the nearby River Bend Resort and golf course are left unscathed. Or why several small, cash-strapped towns are targets of a fence that just won’t disrupt lives but what little economic partnership these towns have with their neighbors.
After numerous calls to various acronym-titled departments within the Department of Homeland Security, the reporter found that no one wanted to answer her question or knew enough to answer it. So, this resourceful journalist called up Congress.
After calling six congressional offices, she finally found a GOP staffer who was able to direct her to the real person in charge of the border fence. Surprisingly, it’s not Michael Chertoff but Greg Giddens of the Secure Border Initiative Office housed in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office.
Giddens is executive director of the SBI, as it is called, which is in charge of SBInet, a consortium of private contractors led by Boeing Co. The group received a multibillion dollar contract in 2006 to secure the northern and southern borders with a network of vehicle barriers, fencing, and surveillance systems. Companies Boeing chose to secure the southern border from terrorists include DRS Technologies Inc., Kollsman Inc., L-3 Communications Inc., Perot Systems Corp., and a unit of Unisys Corp.
In a scenario that scarily resembles the deal the government made with Halliburton for Iraq, the lives of everyday Texans for whom their land is all they literally have, are being treated callously in favor of big companies out to make a profit and wealthy land investors who also happen to be big political contributors.
When Giddens was pressed as to the reasoning for the placement of the fence, he referred the inquiry to a Loren Flossman, his man in charge of tactical infrastructure. When the journalist asked FLossman about why certain areas were targeted for the fence and not others, Flossman reply was:
all data regarding the placement of the fence is classified because “you don’t want to tell the very people you’re trying to keep from coming across the methodology used to deter them.”
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense — to someone who obviously doesn’t know the answer himself.
What was the icing on the cake though was a remark that Flossman said in explaining why the University of Texas at Brownsville was targeted with a fence cutting through the middle of their campus. They obviously have undocumented immigrants who dress up like students and try to blend in with the student population on their way north — no doubt.
It was news to the campus police department who said they’ve never run across undocumented immigrants dressed as students.
The article is a good read and highlights the tangled corporate web of businesses that have so embedded themselves with this administration.
Because these Texas landowners aren’t going to give up their land without a fight, it’s thrown a wrench in the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to have the fencing all finished before the next President takes office.
There’s good indication that whoever assumes office next won’t be so willing to give the DHS a blank check in partnering with businesses and privileged individuals.
Yet, the question that really needs to be asked is: Why wait until next year to haul in a government agency that is enjoying little oversight and has redefined government bullying?