On Thursday November 13, 2008, El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez will testify in Austin, Texas, before the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC) of the Texas House of Representatives on the negative consequences of building a border wall between the US and Mexico.
MALC Chair, Representative Eddie Lucio III, will preside over the hearing to be held in the House Appropriations room, E1.032, at 8:00 a.m. The participants will analyze, among other topics, the possible effects a wall between Mexico and Texas would have on the border’s predominantly Hispanic community, as well as the rest of the state. Testimony received will be used to formulate legislation in response to the border wall.
El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez has been invited to testify in relation to the federal lawsuit the County and the City of El Paso filed this summer challenging Congress’ unconstitutional delegation of authority that allowed Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to waive more than 30 federal, state, and local laws, in order to accelerate the construction of the border wall.
County Attorney Rodríguez will explain to house members that a border wall will not keep immigrants out, but on the other hand, will bring serious environmental, economic and cultural consequences to the El Paso and Juarez region.
Recent data from the Department of Homeland Security shows that this year, in the El Paso Sector, the number of undocumented immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol dropped 60 % in relation to the previous year. This huge drop in detentions was achieved before the construction of the border fence even began by conducting operations that place Border Patrol agents in close proximity to one another along a certain area of the border to prevent illegal crossings. Rodríguez says this data refutes the Department of Homeland Security’s contention that the border wall is necessary to maintain operational control of the border.
El Paso County José R. Rodríguez believes that the billions of dollars that the federal government will spend building the border wall would be better invested in providing more resources to the federal agents that patrol the border.
Rodríguez believes that the border wall in El Paso will be negatively impact the water supply to many farmers in the Lower Valley and potentially affect the ability of the El Paso County Improvement District #1 to supply water to 50% of El Paso residents. The border fence will also hinder bi-national efforts to re-introduce endangered species such as the Mexican gray wolf because the protection of wolf habitats require open corridors in the border region.
The Border Wall will also harm conservation efforts that are underway to protect the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, in El Paso’s lower valley, and will affect the cultural history of the region, as the border wall cuts through sacred ceremonial land used for centuries by the Ysleta Pueblo del Sur Tribe (Tigua).
County Attorney Rodríguez will explain to members of the Texas House of Representatives that the best way to tackle the problem of illegal immigration is to seek approval of comprehensive immigration reform.
“A multi-billion dollar effort to construct the Border Wall simply does not make sense. At a time when America faces a severe financial crises it is simply irresponsible to pour additional money into a wall that will scar our environmental landscape and damage our relationship with communities across the border,” Rodríguez said.
“Instead of deterring illegal immigration, the wall will symbolize not only a failed immigration policy, but also a country barricading itself from the rest of the world,” Rodríguez concluded.
WHO: Mexican-American Legislative Caucus (MALC) of the Texas House of Representatives
WHAT: Hearing on the effects of the border wall
WHEN: Thursday November 13, 2008, at 8:00 a.m.
WHERE: Texas House Appropriations room, E1.032
On Wednesday, December 3, 2008, El Paso State Senator Eliot Shapleigh, Congressman Silvestre Reyes, County Attorney Jose Rodriguez, and City Representative Steve Ortega, signed a joint letter addressed to President-elect Barack Obama opposing the construction of the Border Wall. The signing-in ceremony took place this afternoon at the Hotel Camino Real, as part of the two-day National Border Wall Summit that is currently taking place in El Paso. Other El Paso elected officials who couldn't be present will also sign the letter.
In the letter, the elected officials request President-elect Barack Obama to stop the construction of the border wall and instead concentrate the efforts of his administration on achieving control of the border by adequately staffing the ports of entry, using state-of-the-art technology to detect border incursions, funding the construction of modern infrastructure along the border, and allocating sufficient resources to achieve effective enforcement.
The officials also state that it is fiscally irresponsible to spend 6.3 billion dollars "...on a wall that will not only scar our environmental landscape, but also damage our relationship with communities and countries across the Americas."
The letter explains that sections of the border wall built in California have already begun to erode the Tijuana River Estuary, and another section of the wall in Arizona has caused severe flooding in Nogales.
The letter closes by asking President-elect Obama to "stop the muros de odio[walls of hate] on our southern border -let us stop building these ill-conceived walls founded in current notions of racism. As the next President of the United States, we hope you administration will lead the U.S. to once again be the beacon of hope to the world."
A copy of the letter will also be delivered to Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State designee, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security designee, Bill Richardson, Secretary of Commerce designee, and John Podesta, Presidential Transition Team Co-Chair.
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Border Fence Letter Press Release.pdf