A Last Stand on the Border

Gaining momentum from the Supreme Court’s refusal to examine their waiving of more than thirty laws in the construction of a border wall, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is continuing to up its efforts in an attempt to build the hotly contested border wall in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas within the month.

On Monday evening, the Brownsville City Commission met for more than three hours to discuss the DHS Secure Border Initiative, a plan to build 10 acres of “removable wall” until the city reinforces 2.4 miles of levees to DHS satisfaction. This comes two years after the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was initially passed and more than a decade after the first wall was constructed in California.

The plan proposed by DHS would have the poorest city in the United States hand over 10 acres of taxpayers’ land, at an estimated $95,800, for free. While the City Commissioners were seriously weighing the decision of whether or not to surrender this land, the public made its voice known for more than three hours in the public comment session. Police officers made protesters leave “No Border Wall” signs outside the City Hall, signs which were carried 126 miles from Roma to Brownsville in this past March’s No Border Wall Walk. Still, the sentiments of Brownsville residents were made abundantly clear – No Deal. Texas Border Coalition (TBC) chair Monica Weisberg-Stewart advised caution and encouraged the public with the hopes of a successful suit recently filed by TBC. (http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/city_88091___article.html/fence_border.html)

John Moore, representing the Border Ambassadors, showed 123 signed testimonies from landowners opposing the border fence. Having personally accompanied him through many of these small, tight-knit communities, I can attest to the fact that this number is only a glimpse of the real opposition to this wall and the DHS strongarm tactics which have terrified so many border residents into acquiescence. John Moore and Kiel Harell and I have personally talked with border residents who were asked to sign blank documents, or were given waivers in English when they are pure Spanish-speakers. We have sat and spoken with women who were intimidated by the federal agents asking permission to survey and then buy their land. We have talked with several border residents who sold their homes and multi-generational lands for a measly couple thousand dollars.

Commissioner Troiani ended the meeting by trying to get Brownsville residents to focus on their immediate interests. He said, “It comes to this…either you’re going to try to solve the problems of the city or the problems of the world.” Troiani’s comment belies the underlying reason a border wall is being discussed and supported at all. The very idea that the issues of a city are not hopelessly caught up in the problems of the world belies one of life’s basic tenets, that in the words of Dr. King we are all “caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” A wall, removable or otherwise, in Brownsville, Texas, sends a signal not just to Matamoros on the other side of the Rio Grande. No, any wall sends a signal to the entire world, to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants waiting to legally migrate to our nation. Any wall whatsoever sends a signal to the 4 million displaced Iraqis that we do not want their problems to set foot in our nation. A wall or fence broadcasts to the European Union, China, India, Japan, and England our “Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.” Any wall, fence, or border barrier which neglects to realistically solve the issues of globalization and movement of peoples inherently affects Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania just as much as it does the Rio Grande Valley or Tamaulipas Mexico. If you are reading this, you are affected by the decisions being made right now in this city of 140,000. Please write your senators, legislators, or add your name to the growing list compiled by No Texas Border Wall. If a wall is built in Texas, it will be to the shame of our entire country and, in fact, our globalized world.

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3 Responses to “A Last Stand on the Border”

  1. John Moore Says:

    Mi compadre Mateo,

    Hace demasiado tiempo desde a ver te. Lamento que no hay un video del junto en el internet, porque fue locisimo. Disafortunatamente, Ryan, Yajaira, Elizabeth G., y Crystal estuvieron gritando mientras la vota. Pero, era una mujer de La Moria muy sincera.

    Anyway, I wanted to mention that in case you missed it, Spain won the Eurocup 2008! And also, there is a podcast lecture on immigration and “the sovereignty of the fence” that you just have to hear. Go to iTunes U, search for Yale Law, and right now it’s listed as #16: Burden Sharing in a Time of Migration by Cristina Rodriguez.

    Cuidate, y Dios te bendiga.

  2. No Border Wall Says:

    I don’t think the Brownsville Commisinoers actually read the agreement whereby the City of Brownsville would give the land to DHS for free. Even after they receive this gift, DHS is free to do whatever they want. For example, on page 3, section 7:

    “The Vendor agrees that the United States may, notwithstanding the prior acceptance of this offer, acquire title to said land in the name of the United States by condemnation or other judicial proceedings, in which event the Vendor agrees to cooperate with the United States in the prosecution of such proceedings.”

    So if DHS decides that they don’t like the deal, the contract expressly allows them to turn around and condemn the land. It also expressly requires that Brownsville cooperate with the condemnation of their own land. So what exactly is the benefit of this agreement to Brownsville?

    If anyone wants to read the entire agreement I will scan it. Email noborderwall@yahoo.com and I will send you a copy.

  3. floor jack Says:

    I must say, I could not agree with you in 100%, but it’s just my opinion, which could be very wrong.
    p.s. You have a very good template . Where have you got it from?

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