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Texas-Mexico Border Fence Protests Begin This Weekend

LatinaLista — There’s advance word that things along the Texas-Mexico border will be heating up this weekend.
No, it has nothing to do with the temperatures hovering near 100 degrees, nor are there any Minuteman protests planned that Latina Lista has been made aware of.
Rather what will be heated up are contingents from Texas and Mexico who plan to join hands in the start of a series of protests regarding the building of a border fence.

This Saturday, at two points along the border — El Paso and Mission, Texas — groups are forming a united front in making the strongest statement yet to Washington that construction of a border fence is not wanted by residents of the region, on either side of the border.

San Diego border fence
In El Paso, the kick-off of the 16-day border protest Hands Across the Border begins with a 9 a.m. press conference.

Already taking an almost folk-myth quality about it, the protest has spawned poems and songs and is drawing support from such camps as the pageant organization of Miss America Latina to the Mayor of El Paso:

Dear Friend,
While it is clear that the United States is in need of a fair and comprehensive plan for the reform of immigration and border security, it seems that the proper direction for this reform is still very much unclear.
What those who do not live in the border region may not understand is that the cultural and economic connection between the U.S. and Mexico is one that neither country can afford to cast aside. We function within a symbiotic relationship that can, and must, survive only through a more discerning and critically-insightful immigration reform, one that is sensitive to the circumstances and basic human rights of all the people involved. I, along with many other Texas border mayors, judges and economic experts, believe that building a wall across our nation’s southern border is not this reform.
In a show of support and solidarity, our city of El Paso will take part in Hands Across el Rio, a 1250-mile, 16-day protest against the border wall. This demonstration of bi-national unity begins on August 25, 2007, here in El Paso, Texas, when I, along with other concerned individuals and organizations from both Texas and Mexico, will join hands to create a human chain along the bridge that crosses the Rio Grande. This scene will repeat at a number of border bridges throughout Texas, including Del Rio, Laredo, and Brownsville, with the final demonstration taking place on September 9, 2007.
We ask you to join us this Saturday, August 25th, at 9:15 am at the Lions Placita, located at the intersection of West 8th Avenue and South Santa Fe Street, near the toll booth of the Paso Del Norte Bridge (otherwise known as the Santa Fe Bridge). If you would, please come in a shirt denoting the organization with which you are affiliated, along with 35¢, identification, and proof of citizenship, if necessary, to assure that you will be able to cross back into El Paso without difficulty. I hope you and your organization will participate and stand united with me on this issue.
John Cook

While the Hands Across El Rio protest is taking place, a protest from the No Border Wall group will be underway in Mission, Texas.
In addition to the protest, the group has a petition against the construction of the wall on their web site. Their goal is to reach 5,000 names; so far, 499 people have signed it.
Protests are planned all along the border culminating with more happening the weekend of September 8-9.
During that weekend, protests will be held in Weslaco, Progreso, and Brownsville, Texas, along with, Matamoros, Mexico.
In fact, on September 9 when Hands Across El Rio reaches Brownsville, the faculty and student body of the University of Texas at Brownsville plan to play a major role.
Wonder why they care so much?
Well, the fence is scheduled to be built right through their campus which would leave part of it on the Mexican side.
Though all these protests are well organized and have a core group of supporters, they all need more people to physically join them in showing Washington that this is one idea that has a lot of holes in it.
As Dr. Tony Zavaleta, vice president of external affairs at The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College said:

My goodness, do we want the next generation of kids growing up with the mentality of a wall or border, and the next generation of Mexican kids having that in their psyche as opposed to unity? I just don’t get it.

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  • Frank
    August 23, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    I know why Mexico doesn’t want the fence but why are our fellow citizens from Texas opposed to it?

  • S Nicol
    August 24, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    As a fellow citizen from Texas whose house is about 5 miles from a stretch of the Rio Grande that is slated to have a border wall, I can spell out a few of the reasons that we oppose the construction of the wall. Living down here I can tell you that the “invasion” that Lou Dobbs and Tom Tancredo and their ilk talk about is largely a myth. There are border crossers and they do leave trash bags and inner tubes on the river banks, but they are mostly coming over to work and send money back to their families. Their impact is minimal compared to that of the border wall. Look at the so-called fences that have been built in California, which consist of parallel concrete and steel walls with roads, lights, cameras, and sensors. Look at the walls built in Arizona, which are 15 feet tall and made of rusting scrap metal driven into the ground. Would you want that tearing through your property, or through your community? In the Lower Rio Grande Valley we have very productive agriculture, but all of our farmers are totally reliant on access to the Rio Grande for irrigation because this close to the Gulf of Mexico the groundwater is too brackish for wells. The Rio Grande is also the source for all of our cities’ drinking water. If access to the river is cut by a wall made of slabs of scrap metal we cannot access the pumps that make life possible. Our communities are tied to sister cities on the Mexican side of the river because before Texas separated from Mexico sister cities were single cities built along the only reliable source of water. We do not want to send a message to our neighbors that is antagonistic, and many would say bigoted since no wall is being built on the Canadian border. We also care deeply about our unique environment, which is vital to migratory birds and is home to a number of threatened and endangered species. Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Bentsen Rio Grande State Park and World Birding Center, and a host of other parks and refuges line the river, and ecotourists bring millions of dollars into the local economy. They will not come to see the grave site of the ocelot.
    As an American I am also opposed to the wall for some very practical reasons. I have attended a couple of Border Patrol presentations where they said that a border wall will only slow someone down by 5 minutes. The Congressional Research Service found that the walls already built in Arizona and California had no net effect on the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. They also estimate that it will cost $46 billion. Do we have $46 billion to blow on something that we know will not work? It also tells the world that we are a fearful nation, rather than a strong and confident nation. We are scared of an illusory Mexican “invasion”. The wall is the invention of politicians and pundits to make themselves look tough on national security without having to mention Iraq. We in south Texas do not want to pay the price of their fantasies.

  • Frank
    August 24, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    First you don’t have your facts straight on much of what you have said. If there are any kinks to be worked out because of the fence because of wildlife, etc., I am sure we can work them out.
    As far as any Texas border city’s citizens objecting to the look of the fence or any of the other things you mentioned, Texas is only one state in the union. We cannot allow one state to run the whole country when it is not in the best interests of the rest of the country. It isn’t just about illegal immigration but terrorist entry too. We do not have any wheres near the number of illegal entries from Canada as we do with our Mexican border. If we had the money to do it, I would be all for fencing in our Northern border too. But right now we need to address our most porous and most violated border.
    It wouldn’t cut illegal immigration back 100% but it would cut it back by a very high percentage along with the added Border Patrol and high tech surveillance equipment. You are wrong about the fence not being effective. In San Diego a 14 mile fence alone has cut back illegal entry in that area sustantualy.
    I have seen the trash that the illegals leave behind. Just because you don’t see it in your area doesn’t mean that it isn’t there in other areas. But that is a minor point compared to the act of violating our immigration laws and what occurs afterwards like identity theft, stealing American jobs and taking advantage of our healthcare and education system. You don’t seem to care anything about any of that only that the illegals come here to work without the right to do so and send money back to Mexico rather than spending it in our own economy.
    Why are you so concerned about Mexico’s feelings? If they cared anything about us or their own citizens they would do something to keep their citizens at home and working. There is nothing bigoted about protecting one’s national borders. Mexico protects it’s southern border more so than we do. Does that make them bigots?
    It tells the rest of the world that we are serious about protecting our country and that shows we are strong and smart, not stupid, weak and fearful as you suggest. 12-20 million illegal aliens in our country and most of them from Mexico is not an “illusionary invastion”. It is real by anyone who can do the math and uses some common sense.
    If we can spend all that money in Iraq helping Iraq citizens, it is ridiculous to say we can’t afford to protect our own here at home.
    I suspect you have the usual ulterior motives by the pro-illegals. It is either based on greed for cheap labor (business people), votes for political power (politians) or an ethnic tie to the illegals themselves (a Hispanic). You see I can call a spade a spade when I see one.

  • Frank
    August 25, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Texas is only one state in the union. We need to take steps to do secure our country’s borders which is in the best interests of our entire country, regardless of what some Texans like or don’t like.
    The wall will work and has already been proven that it will. It may not be 100% effective but will deter illegal immigration immensely. Whatever bugs need to be worked out as far as the scenarios you bring up will be worked out.
    We cannot put a price on our national security nor should be hold back in securing it just because some object to it. We have a huge threat of terrorism in this country also. We must block the many ways that they can enter.
    If the majority of Texans are so concerned about the look of the wall or Mexico’s feelings then perhaps they should annex themselves to be part of Mexico rather than the U.S. then. Mexico doesn’t seem to care about our feelings by dumping their poor on us and not taking care of their own citizens.

  • yave begnet
    August 25, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    I don’t even know where to start.
    If we can spend all that money in Iraq helping Iraq citizens, it is ridiculous to say we can’t afford to protect our own here at home.
    Wow. We’ve helped thousands and thousands of Iraqi citizens to shuffle off this mortal coil. Money well spent, I guess you’d say. I’d rather not have that type of malevolent incompetence directed towards people in the U.S.
    I suspect you have the usual ulterior motives by the pro-illegals. It is either based on greed for cheap labor (business people), votes for political power (politians) or an ethnic tie to the illegals themselves (a Hispanic).
    I can’t speak for S Nicol, only for myself: wrong, wrong, and wrong. Try again.
    The wall will work and has already been proven that it will.
    The power of assertion–impressive.
    If the majority of Texans are so concerned about the look of the wall or Mexico’s feelings then perhaps they should annex themselves to be part of Mexico rather than the U.S. then.
    May I recommend some light reading on the Mexican-American War. Texas was part of Mexico until it seceded and the U.S. annexed it. I’m sure you’re aware that the U.S. basically stole roughly half Mexico’s pre-1848 territory. But let bygones be bygones, you say. Why live in the past? Why shade current events with any sort of historical perspective? It’s not like the U.S. would ever invade another country again on trumped up charges for its own enrichment, right?

  • Nonviolent Migration
    August 26, 2007 at 12:38 am

    I attended the No Border Wall Rally in Mission tonight and found it very informative.
    There are very strong local concerns about the wall, and for reasons other than my own. I’ll summarize some of them here, keeping in mind that my biggest opposition is other than these listed.
    Local Reason #1: The Environment. A woman who runs one of the local wildlife sanctuaries spoke and the summary was that a wall of the kind promised, will destroy the ecosystem and will likely mean the extinction of some species.
    Local Reason #2:
    The Economy. We are among the poorest communities in the U.S. Mission isn’t in my county, Cameron County, but its economic situation is very similar. Cameron County was recently declared the poorest county in America. Putting up a wall on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande will eliminate tourist dollars coming into the region (tourism is the fourth largest component of the economy, and one of our best ways to get dollars from outside the Valley into the local economy).
    Local Reason #3: The River. If we build a wall on our side of the river, we give it away. People live near water for many reasons, and we live on the Rio Grande for all of those reasons. If we lose the river, we lose irrigation for agriculture, we lose our drinking water supply, we lose many forms of recreation. The Rio Grande is (I’m thinking here) probably the third or fourth most important waterway in the U.S. behind the Mississippi, the Missouri, and maybe the Colorado. To build a wall on our side of it is to give it away to Mexico.
    Local reason #4: The Land / The History. Our meeting was held at La Lomita Church, a historic church that many people here consider to be sacred ground because of their personal history with the church. This church will be in this no man’s land between the wall and the river if the wall gets built. The most touching moment of the evening for me was after the speeches were given, while a Mariachi band was leading us in a procession down to the river, a few of us straggled behind because we wanted to see the church (I live in Brownsville, an hour away, and hadn’t yet seen it). As I walked quietly into the tiny church, I saw an old, dark-skinned man, equally humble as the church, kneeling in prayer. This church, his parish, is only one of thousands of historic sites that will be lost if the wall is built. The current plan will cut off at least 35 homes, just in Mission (a very small site compared with El Paso, or even Brownsville), not to mention so many restaurants and public sites. Three families in Mission have held property extending from the river for over 250 years. The river is what makes that land useful, valuable, and meaningful. If we build the wall, we lose all that historic, economic, and cultural value.
    Local Reason #5: The Meaning. Any honest person can tell you that this wall is about keeping out the Mexicans. Here in the RGV, we don’t want to do that. We are one community, much like Minneapolis and St. Paul. Each border city has a twin, so much so that they often share a name (Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, Nogales and Nogales). We are one family, and a wall will either separate us because it works, or it will separate us because it was supposed to have worked. Whether it succeeds or not, the message, “You are not welcome here,” is being understood already. I think we feel something like a bridegroom bringing home his bride to meet his family and having to constantly apologize and make up for the offenses she endures at the hands of his relatives. Our Uncle Sam is yelling all sorts of obscenities at the people we love and we are doing our best to say, “I know he’s impossible to ignore, but please believe us, we really do love you.”
    If you are in favor of the Border Wall, please… I ask you with quiet sincerity… please consider us who live here and don’t want it. We are not extremists, we are not clueless, we are not biased. There really is a better way for you to get what you want. This will hurt us much more than it will ever help you.

  • Frank
    August 26, 2007 at 11:39 am

    My point was that if we can spend all that money in Iraq (and I didn’t say whether or not I opposed that), we certainly should be able to spend money at home protecting our own borders and citizens.
    Nothing was stolen from Mexico. The states in question were bought and paid for and many debts forgiven of Mexico. Wars have been fought thruout history and the spoils go the winner. If there was a dispute over the land at that time, then that generation should have handled it not generations 200 years later. Whatever the U.S. does in the future has nothing to do with the reconquista movement by some Mexicans today or what occured in the past. Do you have a crystal ball or something?
    As I said, all the so-called negatives about the wall will be solved before the wall is built. It is necessary for our national security. Am I going to worry about the migration of lizards or 300 million U.S. citizens that may get blown to kingdom come because some terrorist group snuck thru our southern border or that our population grows to 500 million soon because of uncontrolled population growth? Any sane person will choose national security over the minor things you bring up. By the way, I am also concerned about our northern border too and hope we find the funds to fence it too.
    You loss all credibility when you pull the race card and say the wall is about keeping out Mexicans only. We should keep out all illegals regardless of nationality, don’t you think? If most of the illegals are Mexican and coming thru our Mexican border well what is your argument then?

  • Nonviolent Migration
    August 26, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    “The spoils go to the winner”? Really, Frank? Your amorality startles me. I have never met anyone so callous.
    Any sophisticated thinker will acknowledge that this wall will not help our national security. It covers only a very small percent of one border.
    If we were really worried about national security, we would allow for unrestricted migration for anyone who could pass a background check. If that were our policy, the only people running through the desert or braving the river would be people who couldn’t pass it. Our border patrol would then be able to focus on every person crossing illegally because there would be so few and because we would know that they posed a serious risk to our security. Restrictionists have their logic all wrong.

  • Frank
    August 27, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Oh, don’t read more into my statement than what it is. “Spoils to the winner” is just a term that has been around forever to denote that the winners of a war usually get to keep the booty, that’s all. Geesh, now you go and question a person’s morality over it.
    The fence/wall is supposed to be over 700 miles long and it is to cover the most used points of illegal entry. It is also to help the Border Patrol do it’s job more efficiently.
    Oh, I see your are an open borders person. Sorry, but you and I will never agree then. There are millions of poor people all over the world, you think that we should take them all in no matter how much more our highways are congested, our schools and hospitals overcrowded, our natural resources get depleted? What kind of quality of life is that for Americans? Don’t Americans have any rights in their own country?
    Yes, I am for restricting immigration so that it doesn’t create the situations that I described above. But I am not opposed to legal immigraton that doesn’t create those conditions. That is a bad thing? How so?

  • Nonviolent Migration
    August 27, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Words matter. But even more than words, the kinds of reasoning we use matters. I believe that all humans are created equal and endowed by their Creator (not their government) with certain inalienable rights, and that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also believe that if we favor one group over another based on any immutable characteristic arbitrary from a moral point of view, we do not have equality under law. All my reasoning begins at that point. And yes, given those two basic tenets of American Democracy, I have no choice but to be an advocate of free migration.
    Fortunately I don’t just have democratic theory on my side. I also have history. Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and the Reconstruction Congress who gave us the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution also gave us the Burlingame treaty which declared “the inherent and inalienable right for man to change his home and allegiance.” That was ended by the same Congress that ended Reconstruction and ushered in Jim Crow and the worse era in race relations in America, the nadir. This timing is no coincidence. Now the same era which brings us the Patriot Act, warrant-less wiretapping, Guantanamo Bay, water-boarding, and secret prisons, has brought us a militarization of the border, criminalizing immigration (which has never existed until now), for-profit prisons for immigrant children as young as 1 years old, the great wall of South Texas, and Lou Dobbs.

  • Frank
    August 28, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Have you even given any thought as to the chaos it would create on this planet today if everyone were allowed to live in any country they want without being checked and documented? Everyone would be moving to only the places where the climate is good year round and the rest of the planet would be barren. Every country has their own identity, culture, language. Can you imagine what it would be like to have hundreds of different languages being spoken and no one being able to communicate with each other? Or moving to a Muslim country when your religious views and practices, political and cultural beliefs are totally different than theirs? You have no idea what you are suggesting by anyone being able to migrate anywhere they want on this planet without permission from a particular country. You would see civil wars worldwide from culture clashes. Do you read science fiction a lot? Sounds like it!
    Immigration laws were implemented around 1920 in this country. Do you know why? Do you even care that it was to be able to control population growth which is in the best interests of any country and to assimilate immigrants into our society when they have a totally different culture and language than our own? To make sure that there are enough natural resources for everyone for now and in the future? To make sure we don’t have overcrowded conditions on our roads, hospitals and schools? Do you even care at all about this other than some selfish motives for yourself?

  • Nonviolent Migration
    August 28, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Selfish motives? What? Where did you come up with that idea?
    I gave you philosophy and history, you gave me unsubstantiated prognostication. So tell me, who is writing science fiction?
    No, I don’t think people should be able to be move wherever they want without being checked or documented, I just think that morally equivalent people should not be turned away when they apply.
    I think the “chaos” you describe is really a utopia.

  • Frank
    August 28, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    There are millions of morally good people in this world. What part of we cannot take them all into our country without seriously effecting our country negatively by the things I alread described?
    Guess you don’t read the news much. There have been riots all over Europe and in other countries where too much immigration brought on chaos and civil wars.

  • Horace
    September 6, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Did these protests happen, because I don’t recall seeing them covered in the national news? I guess illegal alien marches have lost their attraction. Nice try, but the people of the U.S. are not with you.

  • Tim Brown
    October 1, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    We need to send all illegal aliens back to where thy came from. You are a racist because you are only for Mexicans. This system of illegals is not fare to Africans and other who would like to come here. I take it you hate blacks!

  • Tim Brown
    October 1, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    We need to send all illegal aliens back to where thy came from. You are a racist because you are only for Mexicans. This system of illegals is not fare to Africans and other who would like to come here. I take it you hate blacks!

  • Tim Brown
    October 1, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    We need to send all illegal aliens back to where thy came from. You are a racist because you are only for Mexicans. This system of illegals is not fare to Africans and other who would like to come here. I take it you hate blacks!

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