Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hurricanes and Border Walls Don’t Mix

The Texas Border Coalition, which describes itself as a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, and economic development commissions along Texas' border with Mexico, released the following statement regarding the border wall in South Texas:

EAGLE PASS, Texas – (July 25, 2008) – As South Texans continue to repair roofs, roads and lives damaged by Hurricane Dolly, the chairman of the Texas Border Coalition (TBC) repeated his protest today that hurricanes and the border wall don’t mix.

TBC Chairman and Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster objected to a new plan by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to build 14 miles of movable wall in the U.S.-Mexico border floodplain that would have to be torn down within 24 hours of the next hurricane or other flood event.

“Hurricane season is not over with the downgrading of Dolly,” Foster said. “Not only does DHS plan to continue its piecemeal approach to protecting the lives of South Texans, now they plan a total absurdity: a movable wall.”

“If a movable wall were in place today, over 1,000 workers would be needed to tear it down within 24 hours, load it on to hundreds of trucks to take it north,” said Foster. “They would be doing so instead of battening down their homes for the storm or evacuating their families from its wrath.”

According to the latest information available about the movable wall, it would be constructed of steel bollards 18 feet above ground, filled to the 10-foot level with concrete. By TBC’s back-of-the-envelope estimations, the 14-mile movable wall would be made of nearly 90,000 steel bollards, each weighing about 1,700 pounds.

To achieve its goal of removing the wall, the DHS would have to haul away 151 million pounds of unwieldy pipe filled with concrete. Who will move it and with what equipment is unclear.

“The people of the Rio Grande Valley, having just experienced the rapid emergency work necessary to protect the people in advance of a hurricane, know that DHS’ movable wall is simply ridiculous,” Foster said.

“It is an outrage that that DHS is so arrogant, out of control and headstrong to build a wall that even Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff admits won’t work – that illegal crossers will go around, over, through and under it,” Foster said. “In doing so, they are wasting $50 billion of the taxpayers’ money for a wall that everyone knows won’t work.”

Foster added, “This is the result of Secretary Chertoff’s waiver of 34 laws to build the wall. By repealing these laws, DHS has avoided scrutiny from the public and government agencies, essentially voiding our system of checks and balances. It would have made more sense, and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, if DHS had simply consulted with border residents and border officials first. We certainly would not have suggested a 151-million-pound movable wall.”

The Texas wall is being built more than 1 mile from the border, trapping workers, families, farmers, ranchers, and retirees on the Mexican side. The wall will cede thousands of acres of U.S. land to Mexico and endanger the lives of people when they need assistance from emergency or law enforcement personnel who won’t be able to reach them.

“Illegal border crossing won’t be controlled until the U.S. has a well-run immigration system that expands avenues for legal workers and cracks down on illegal hiring,” Foster said.

When immigration is reformed, the U.S. won’t need a border wall, although the nation will continue to require beefed up Border Patrol and Customs forces to halt illegal drug smuggling. The border wall will be torn down, he added.

“We thank goodness that Hurricane Dolly jogged north of the Rio Grande river just before hitting Texas. As my friends and neighbors give thanks for being spared from what could have been the worst catastrophe of their lives, Congress and President Bush should stop the construction of an absurd movable border wall that they’ll have to tear down,” Foster said.

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The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) is a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, economic development commissions focused on issues that affect more than 6 million people along the Texas-Mexico border region and economically disadvantaged counties from El Paso to Brownsville. TBC is working closely with the state and federal government to educate, advocate, and secure funding for transportation, immigration and ports of entry, workforce and education and health care. For more information, visit the coalition Web site at www.texasbordercoaltion.org.

1 comment:

paperbend said...

it is indeed true that a massive wall would clash with nature and the environment, hurricanes included. arguments from the environmental point of view are, i believe, some of the strongest against the building of a massive fence/wall along the u.s./mexican border. the center for biological diversity is actually against border walls/fences. they state a strong case here: