LatinaLista — South Texas residents whose property was seized by the government to build a border wall have never been in favor of the structure. Yesterday, Sept. 19, the residents gathered to give testimony about their feelings about the border wall in a forum organized and hosted by their congressional representative, Republican Representative Ted Poe.
The South Texas residents were eager to get their views back to members of Congress to show Congress that not everyone sees the border wall as a deterrent to illegal immigration. Resident after resident spoke his or her mind about the border wall, thinking that their words would be carried back to Congress.
They were wrong.
It seems Rep. Poe didn’t have any authority to hold the forum as an official congressional hearing, the only way the testimonies given that day would have been entered into the congressional record.
It also seems that Rep. Poe knew this and this isn’t his first offense at misleading his constituents.
According to an article in the Rio Grande Guardian:
A staff member for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee told the Guardian that Poe’s forum could not be classified as an official congressional hearing.
…”Ted Poe has done this in the past. He holds forums in Texas, in his district, things he thinks are important. But they are not congressional hearings.”
Asked if the testimony given at Poe’s forum can be entered into the congressional record, the Judiciary Committee staff member said: “Ted Poe can certainly bring it back with him to Congress and we could do a follow up hearing here in Washington. We have things that are called congressional field hearings but that is not what this is. This is not a field hearing. This is not an official congressional event. This is a forum. It is kind of like a media event. It is an event people put together and they invite the press. It looks like a hearing but it is not a congressional event.”
It’s obvious the forum was all for show to make his constituents think he’s listening to them and representing their views back on Capitol Hill. If he was sincere about representing the peoples’ views, his office would have made it clear that the testimony would amount to nothing more than “venting” their frustration.
But he didn’t, and his press office has not returned calls made by the media as to why he did it. To say the people who attended the event feel cheated is putting it mildly.
Yet, several state legislators who held their own border security town hall on Saturday weren’t going to let Rep. Poe pretend South Texas’ residents aren’t speaking out.
The state legislators drafted a letter and sent it to not only Poe but to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King, who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, and U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, who attended Poe’s event.
The letter reads:
September 19, 2011
Hon. Ted Poe, M.C.
U.S. House of Representatives
430 Cannon Building
Washington, D.C., 20515
Dear Congressman Poe:
Thank you for traveling to South Texas to take input from a community directly affected by border security policy. As you are keenly aware, the Rio Grande Valley has great interest in decisions made by lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
Over the weekend we hosted a town hall meeting to take input on the impact of the border wall. As Texas’ Southernmost Gulf Coast/Border region legislators, we had the privilege and honor to hear from many Rio Grande Valley Texans concerned about the impact of the federal border wall. Friends and neighbors approached us with confusion and anger as to why the federal government arbitrarily erected a wall dividing communities, businesses, and neighborhoods along the Southern Texas border. Valley business owners and farmers expressed concerns over the impact the wall has on their livelihoods. Homeowners voiced their worry over property values. State and local law enforcement officials reported an increase in drug trafficking.
Thanks to the contribution of these concerned citizens and law enforcement officials, we found that uncertainty exists as to whether the border wall achieves its intended outcomes. Specifically, concern was expressed over the lack of discernable evidence of the effectiveness of the border wall. Of the questions offered, data is needed on the effect to:
• Public Safety
• The economy
• Illegal drug trade
• Loss of life related to illegal crossing
• Emotional and psychological well being of residents living along/behind the wall
• The environment
We firmly believe that border Texans should have the same rights as other Americans when it comes to property rights and freedom of information, but we currently have limited data about the border wall’s impact. This is not good for our families, this is not good for our businesses and this is not good for our State of Texas.
As representatives of our community, we ask that an official assessment be conducted of the short- and long-term impact the federal wall has on the Lower Rio Grande Valley. A professional analysis utilizing a scientifically documented process is important to substantiate whether local assumptions about the border wall are accurate.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. If there is any way that we may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Eddie Lucio, Jr.,
Chairman, Senate Committee on International Relations and Trade
Chairman, House Committee on Land & Resource Management
Eddie Lucio, III
State Representative, District 38