Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Environment > Brownsville Mayor Declares Federal Government is Doing Irreparable Damage to Texas Border Region with Proposed Fence

Brownsville Mayor Declares Federal Government is Doing Irreparable Damage to Texas Border Region with Proposed Fence

LatinaLista — Residents in the Texas Rio Grande Valley have been fighting two wars: the war in Iraq that has taken many of their young people from the region and the war against the Department of Homeland Security which is wanting their private property to build a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico.
Unlike some other portions of the U.S.-Mexico border, residents along the Texas border aren’t willing to hand over their property so easily to the government. They want more time to try to convince the government that alternative ideas can be just as effective, if not more so, in creating a secure but less disruptive barrier between the two countries.

One Texas border property where Department of Homeland Security wants to construct a fence.

Yet the government has tired of talk, and from an administration that set the standard for pre-emptive strikes, the Department of Homeland Security is attempting to circumvent the landowners and claim the land in the name of national security.

It has not made any of the affected border communities fans of the government. In fact, it has caused so many negative feelings towards Washington that an us-versus-them feeling has emerged along the Texas border.
When a situation escalates to that point, it doesn’t bode well for either side.
To make matters worse, the Associated Press reports this afternoon that a federal judge has ordered 10 border property owners to make their lands available to the government for 180 days for surveying purposes.
However, the same judge denied the government the right to take the land without a hearing, which it wanted to do.
As this struggle between the U.S. government and the Texas border communities play out daily, President Bush will deliver in his State of the Union address tonight on the “progress” DHS has made in securing the border.
In his speech about it, the President plans to say in part that:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is on track to complete 370 miles of pedestrian fencing along the southwest border by the end of calendar year 2008. As of this month, we have completed a total of 165 miles of pedestrian fence along the southwest border, giving us a total of 290 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fence already in place at the border. We expect to have 670 total miles of pedestrian and vehicle fence by the end of 2008, and have begun obtaining land to make this a reality.

If people only knew how the government is obtaining this land.

Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada

One person is determined to let people know.
Texas border native and mayor of Brownsville, Texas, Pat Ahumada, has been a vocal critic of the government’s strong-arm tactics in getting their way along the Texas-Mexico border.
In the following post special to Latina Lista, Mayor Ahumada addresses the issue that is #1 with his constituents.

Unfortunately, the proponents of the border fence between Texas and Mexico, particularly mid-America, they have no clue as to how it will affect all the communities along the Rio Grande River.
Our heritage, culture, traditions, commerce and good neighbor policy will be affected in an adverse way. Already the resentment by our neighbors is becoming evident and those of us with a Mexican heritage are resentful towards those who are promoting what we believe to be a racial divide under the pretext of securing our border.
No one is against enforcing our laws against illegal immigration, drug trafficking and fighting terrorism, but it does not make sense to force a fence no one wants in this region and by the Department of Homeland Security’s own admission can be breached in 3 to 7 minutes.
We also have the Gulf of Mexico, which can be used to bypass the fence. As Mayor of Brownsville, we support alternatives to the proposed fence that are feasible and less costly, but to date DHS refuses to discuss with us these alternatives that can accomplish their mission and spare us from the devastating adverse effects on our way of life.
DHS’ refusal to work with local leaders along the border goes to show how our federal government can turn against its own people and suspend our rights and liberties as they did to the Japanese in World War II.
We have proposed to build a weir damn along the river, which will raise the water level from 123 to 126 feet above sea level, widen the river by 300 feet and back up the river for 42 miles — in essence creating a virtual fence that can easily be patrolled with high-speed boats, sophisticated electronic equipment and boots on the ground to deter any illegal activity along the border.
It also offers many different economic opportunities to develop the river for tourism. This proposal is at a cost of $40.0 million, which is less costly and more effective than the border fence being proposed.
The other alternative is building the fence along our levees, which will in effect reinforce our levees without adversely affecting the flood plain as the proposed fence will do or affecting our ecological corridor and historical corridor along the river, which generates tourism to our area.
In my opinion, the fence is unAmerican and symbolizes everything contrary to what America is all about. America should enforce its laws and not blame us for the historical failure to do so.
Now, the federal government wants a quick fix to the lack of past enforcement at our expense, but the quick fix is costly and not a good proposal to provide the security it seeks to provide.
The proposed fence is promoting a false sense of security and is being divisive.
I urge all my fellow Americans who want a fence to build a fence around their communities and see what will happen. Their community will die.
America needs to continue to be the beacon of fairness and justice and not the totalitarian government it is demonstrating to be with this issue against its people on the southwest border.
We are not at war with Mexico and no terrorist attacked us on 9/11/2001 that came from Mexico.
Pat Ahumada
Mayor of Brownsville, Texas

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  • Jax
    January 28, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    The government, if it so chooses, has the right to take land it deems important in protecting our borders under the right of eminent domain.
    It’s really quite simple.

  • Frank
    January 28, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Hmm, most all Americans have a fence around their yards. Is this unneighborly or divisive? The arguments against the fence are very weak and selfish. We should be thinking about what is best for this entire country, not the feelings of a few. I doubt that the powers that be haven’t already looked at alternatives and found them not to be feasible. A fence in San Diego like the one they are planning to build along the Rio Grande is a huge success in San Diego.
    Just because the 9/11 terrorists didn’t enter thru Mexico, doesn’t mean they won’t the next time. The FBI Director has already stated that people from known terrorist countries have entered thru Mexico and disappeared into our country.

  • Texano78704
    January 29, 2008 at 9:20 am

    “The proposed fence is promoting a false sense of security and is being divisive.”
    That pretty well sums it up.
    And the Rio Grande valley is nothing at all like the urbanized San Diego region.
    “Just because the 9/11 terrorists didn’t enter thru Mexico, doesn’t mean they won’t the next time.”
    No, it just means they will either bring an 11 foot ladder to a 10 foot fence or enter through Canada. And I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that the 9/11 hijackers, who were predominantly Saudi Arabians, entered the country with visas, not via a surreptitious border crossing.

  • Frank
    January 29, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    We should secure both of our borders. So what is your next excuse? It isn’t just a double fence we are talking about. It is also additional BP and IMO we should have the National Guard at both borders. The fence/wall will greatly assist law enforcement at the borders and along with the latest high tech surveillance equipment that is all we can do from stopping illegals and terrorists from entering in that manner. You would rather we throw up our hands and do nothing but those with an agenda use every excuse in the book not to secure our southern border in particular.

  • Evelyn
    January 29, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    YOU want a fence? Build one around your house. Wall yourself in! Please promise you wont come out!

    January 29, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Ok, we’re all in agreement that there are many ways to enter the U.S. illegally. Also in agreement, the fence will not be 100% effective in stopping illegal immigration. But, if it discourages or stops 50% of the flow then we are better off than to have done nothing at all. Other factors will also go into play, like more border agents, cameras and motion detectors. Attempts to come here illegally will slowly decline as more and more attempts fail. It must be tried before it can be considered a bad idea.

  • Frank
    January 30, 2008 at 8:23 am

    EOT, we both know why they don’t want a fence and it has nothing to do with their belief that it won’t be effective or that it will spoil the landscape. It is the bottom line, ulterior motive but they will never admit it.

  • miguel
    January 30, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Frank spoke for EOT and stated It is the bottom line, ulterior motive but they will never admit it.
    What is the bottom line?
    What is the ulterior motive?
    Who is they?
    Admit to what?
    Maybe access to a decoder ring.

  • Frank
    January 31, 2008 at 8:14 am

    The bottom line and ulterior motive is that many Hispanics in this country want illegal immigration to continue from their ethnic group so that they can become the majority in this country.

    January 31, 2008 at 9:36 am

    The thought process is easy if you consider the opposite opinions in this blog. There will be no admission by the pro-illegal alien/open borders group that their ulterior motive for not wanting a fence/barrier along our southern border so as to allow a free flow of illegal aliens into the U.S. until their numbers become so over bearing that the only solution will be blanket amnesty, rewarding them for violating our immigration laws. Bottom line.

  • Aaron
    March 8, 2008 at 12:06 am

    I am afraid its to late for fences to late for borders.The illegals are here and if not now, will out number Americans in a few years.the illegals will and are voting and making political policies in America.Dont blame the illegals most are hard working people.It is our elected politicians we need to blame and greedy buisness who dont want to pay fair wages.

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