South Texas opponents of new border wall promise resistance
Monday, October 9, 2023
Opponents of previous efforts to build a border wall in South Texas are reeling from the Biden administration's announcement last week to resume, and speed up, wall construction.
In issuing the order, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said 26 federal laws will be waived to construct more border wall in Starr County, Texas.
Tricia Cortez, executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center has long advocated against the wall construction, and said barriers divide people and waste money.
"To build something that is so ineffective, so expensive, so destructive, and that is not going to stop migration flows," Cortez contended.
Laws being waived to build the wall include the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Last month, the Government Accountability Office issued a report which found "significant damage and destruction" of Indigenous cultural sites, wildlife and vegetation resulted from former President Donald Trump's efforts to build the border wall.
Cortez argued waiving laws allows the federal government to create a "security enforcement zone," which effectively destroys property along a riverbank the width of a five-lane highway. While its location has not been announced, the wall would likely be built through poor communities where property right of way sales could be worth a year's income.
Cortez called new wall construction a "political misstep," and promises resistance will continue.
"Nowhere else in the United States do they waive federal laws, which are the legal protections guaranteed to any American citizen, except here on the border," Cortez stressed. "As if that's OK."
Instead of more wall, Cortez believes the U.S. government should be building more logical, cost-effective and humane infrastructure to deal with periodic migrant surges, which have existed for decades.
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