LatinaLista — Homeland Security is going on with its plan to construct a double-row steel fence through the city of Laredo, Texas and over 153 miles along the Texas-Mexico border.
According to Homeland Security, and Congress, the American people want this barrier between Mexico and US. But it’s the American people in Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, etc. that think such a fence is good.
The majority of American people who actually live along this border think it’s a bad, bad idea.
Not just because Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary, promised to keep border residents in the loop as to when and where the fence would be built – he didn’t — but because such a fence would harm the special relationships that border communities have with one another.
Coalitions comprised of border residents, public officials, environmentalists and law enforcement from South Texas have been making monthly pilgrimages to Washington to try to explain what a fence would do to the border.
“It’s one of the few issues around which virtually every group along the border is organized and united,” Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas said. “No one on the border likes the wall. But Washington isn’t listening, and that’s a real shame.”
(Source: The Dallas Morning News)
If Washington had a clue, or just did their homework or actually made a site visit, they would discover that a fence would actually divide the campus of the University of Texas at Brownsville and cut off the international bridge from Brownsville into Matamoros.
A fence would also affect the natural habitats of many animals in the Santa Ana Natural Wildlife Refuge.
But more disturbing is that a fence would create havoc with communities who have created working, mutually beneficial partnerships with their over-the-border neighbors.
For example, representatives from El Paso, Texas, Sundland Park, New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez signed an agreement this month to share resources during environmental emergencies.
The agreement arranges for cross-border responses by police, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders to major emergencies that threaten communities on either side of the border.
The first meeting among the three communities took place earlier this month. It was historic in that it respected and combined protocols from each of the representative city government.
The unprecedented ceremony was presided over by Dr. Tony Payan, an assistant professor of international law and foreign policy in UTEP’s political science department.
In convening the meeting, Payan told the councils and audience, both in English and Spanish, just how the gathering would proceed: each government was to commence its meeting according to its own protocols and traditions, Ciudad Juarez first, Sunland Park second, and El Paso third; then the joint meeting would be open to discussion and action regarding the various chosen topics.
A Mexican honor guard opened Juarez’s council meeting, during which Mexican citizens stood in absolute reverence with a one-hand salute held over their hearts.
El Paso’s council meeting was opened with a performance of the national anthem by city engineering department employee Denise Baisely.
Together, these three communities discussed how to tackle dangerous pollution levels and other issues that they realize don’t just impact one community without impacting the other two.
Another example of how border communities are working together is with the Pfizer Alliance for a Healthy Border.
It’s common knowledge among healthcare professionals that Hispanics suffer a high rate of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Nowhere is this more evident than along the US-Mexico border.
Risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease—and the health disparities these diseases create—are particularity high along the U.S.-Mexico border, where the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 14% of the population is pre-diabetic and nearly three-quarters of men and women are overweight.
The Alliance for a Healthy Border or Alianza por una Frontera Saludable is a partnership to educate people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border about the care and prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Through the Alliance for a Healthy Border, Pfizer has committed $3.5 million in grants, capacity building and networking resources to community health centers across the four border states in the U.S. and six border states in Mexico to help them develop or expand diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention programs. The grants support a range of prevention activities and materials to help individuals and their families adopt “heart healthy” habits into their daily lives and reduce their risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
It is a program that both the US and Mexico need.
Texas border residents have started calling the proposed wall “The Wall of Shame.” They say that even border enforcement officials acknowledge that a wall will only stop anyone trying to get over it by only 2-3 minutes.
Yet, what serves as the most frustrating point for these border communities is that Washington refuses to listen to them and the real-life solutions they are proposing to curb illegal entry into the country and stubbornly thinks the wall is an answer to border enforcement prayers.
In reality, it will create a nightmare situation between two countries that need each other more than they know.