Border mayors whine about fence offer no solutions

Houston Chronicle:

Along the Rio Grande, Texans are agitated about the government's plan to build 370 miles of fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border, including 153 miles in Texas.

Mayors, county judges and others up and down the 1,200-mile Texas-Mexico border are pressing the Department of Homeland Security to delay construction, saying community concerns are being ignored.

But the government's sense of urgency could intensify because the fence has become enmeshed with the push for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.


Conservatives, who insisted on the enforcement benchmarks, view them as essential components of an immigration bill painstakingly crafted by a bipartisan group of senators working with the White House.

"The American people will not be sold on the idea of doing immigration reform until they are confident that our border is secure," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., calling the enforcement mandates "a stroke of genius."


"Absolutely, we have a concern," said Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, head of the Texas Border Coalition. The group of elected leaders is fighting the fence on grounds it is unnecessary, will harm flood-control systems and wildlife habitats, cut livestock off from watering places and harm relations with Mexico.

"We've just got such a wonderful relationship on the border, that's why we hate to see some yahoo in Washington impact it, not having ever seen the Texas border," Foster said.

Politicians embrace the fencing in Texas for political, not enforcement, purposes, said Brownsville Mayor Eddie Treviño, who also worries the fence is on a fast track.

"There is such a mismatch and smoke-and-mirrors that's been utilized in order to scare the American public into thinking that the building of a wall will, in some shape or form, answer the problem of illegal immigration," he said.

Treviño, Foster, Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas and Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas offered a similar complaint: Homeland Security officials are moving behind the scenes to finish fence construction plans despite promises to consult with local authorities first.

These guys seem oblivious to the fact that 12 to 20 million people have immigrated into the country illegally and they do not want to be inconvenienced by efforts to control that migration. They are completely out of touch with the concerns of the rest of the country about uncontrolled immigration.

I think it is more about the fear of change than it is about the stated concerns about bugs and bunny environmental issues.


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