LatinaLista — Just as one of the last landowner holdouts in the Rio Grande Valley, Eloisa Tamez, received word this week that her court case had been lost against the federal government and she would have to fork over the ancestral lands that have been the inheritance of every generation in her family since the 1700s, organizers in San Diego were sending notice that a delegation from that city would be traveling to DC next week to lobby against further construction of the border fence.
Tamez and other border wall opponents have put up a tireless fight against the federal government since it was announced that the border wall would cut through family properties, towns, college campuses, etc. Even with Sec. Napolitano now in charge, the hope that things will change is not that great.
Since Secretary Napolitano took over the reigns of the Department of Homeland Security, immigration rights advocates have been heartened by the change in attitude the new administration has exhibited towards immigration raids, immigrant detention and immigration reform.
However, opponents of the border wall who have fought against the physical barrier, traveled to Washington to present alternative solutions and hosted Obama Administration officials on tours of the impact of the border wall on their communities have not been able to share with their immigration-reform colleagues the same kind of hope for a positive ending.
If immigration reform has a stepchild, the border wall is it and while the nation’s immigrant rights advocates have united behind pushing for comprehensive immigration reform, there has been little, if any, actions outside the border regions of the country of an unified fight against the continued construction of the border wall.
Even though the initial arguments justifying the erection of the border wall was to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants crossing illegally into the country, along the way, the argument has been muddied with national security being the reason as well.
Which leads to the greater question: Have border wall activists been left out of the support network created by immigration reform supporters?
It certainly seems so to the border wall activists who are comprised of environmentalists, border residents, local politicians, conservationists, etc.
In the overall fight for immigration reform and support of immigrants’ rights, the border wall opponents have been left on their own to fight their own fight.
Maybe because Congress waffles back and forth between using the border fence as a national security issue and an immigration enforcement tool.
Maybe it’s the distance from the border to points north that make the issue a nonissue for those trying to stop the separation of families, worksite raids, detentions and racial profiling in their towns.
Whatever the reason, it seems that while immigration reform activists are taking up the worthy cause of the rights of immigrants, they are not seeing the struggles of those for whom the border wall impacts not just their way of life but separates them from their own families across the border.
The border wall ceased being a cause celebre for national security when it was noticed that undocumented immigrants were still coming. As one Reuters News story noted:
A new single layer of steel mesh fence 10-13 feet tall stretches out across the rugged, high plains deserts and grasslands on either side of the small town of Naco, Arizona. The Border Patrol credits it with contributing to a fall in arrests, but some residents say it has done little to stop illegal immigrants.
In two recent visits to the area, Reuters correspondents found an improvised wooden ladder and stretches of garden hose used to scale the barrier, along with dozens of pieces of clothing and rucksacks apparently tossed by illegal border crossers as they breached it.
Local rancher John Ladd said some 300 to 400 illegal immigrants continue to clamber over the new steel barrier flanking the southern reach of his farm for some 10 miles each day, as an effective combination of technologies and manpower remains elusive.
“It’s so easy to climb that I’ve seen two women that were pregnant, I’ve seen several women in their sixties and all kinds of kids between five and ten years old climb over it,” Ladd said, as he leaned on a section of the steel mesh fence that stretches like a rusted veil westward toward the rugged Huachuca Mountains.
“They’re getting some help, but when you put it in perspective, its pretty amazing to have a nine-month pregnant woman climbing over that son of a gun, and thinking that this is going to be the answer to solve our immigration problem.”
It’s pretty clear that the border wall should be made a part of the broader Comprehensive Immigration Reform measure and that the border wall opponents should not have to continue fighting their battle alone.
(Editor’s note: Eloisa Tamez’s attorney has filed an injunction to stop the federal government from building the border wall on her property.)