Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Regional Border Wall Forum

Regional Forum on the Border Wall

Confused about the Border Wall? A community forum on this contentious issue will take place this Thursday evening, June 26, at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium, Building G, at South Texas College in Weslaco. The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it intends to begin construction on the Wall in Hidalgo County in just 30 days.

Among the speakers will be Scott Nicol of the No Border Wall Coalition, who will review the legal challenges to the Wall and address the government’s latest plan to link the wall to the improvement of the levee system. A number of objections to this plan have been raised. One important objection, according to Nicol, is that linking the Wall to levee construction will be very dangerous to the Valley in case of a hurricane.

Martin Hagne, an environmental advocate and Executive director of Weslaco ’s Valley Nature Center will also speak. Hagne also will be available afterward to answer questions on how the proposed Wall will affect wildlife, water resources, etc. There has been work carried out over decades to protect the natural environment in South Texas , work many environmentalists believe will be set back by the Border Wall.

Rogelio Nunez, director of Projecto Libertad in Harlingen , who has tentatively agreed to speak, and Meredith Linskey, an immigration rights attorney in Harlingen , will address human rights issues and the cultural context of the wall. The Wall reflects a mean spiritedness to Mexico and to immigrants and is perceived by many human rights activists as another step toward militarization of the border region.

The forum is free and open to the public. “A year ago at this time, momentum against the Wall seemed sufficient to stop it, l thought,” said Bob Fowler of Weslaco , a philosophy instructor and peace and justice activist who supports the idea of a public forum. “The Mayor of McAllen, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, the President of U.T. Brownsville and all the environmental groups seemed so opposed to it that I thought the government would back off.

“Because there seemed to be so many rallies against the Wall from Del Rio to Brownsville ,” said Fowler, “it has come as a shock that now the government has announced that it is going right ahead with it in July. We need to organize a series of events right away.”

The No Border Wall Coalition, which is sponsoring the event at STC, has reached out to many Valley groupings within the last few years and has developed links nationally in opposition to the wall. The forum is intended as a wake-up call to the community. Despite the opposition from many Valley organizations and despite legal suits, the Department of Homeland Security has announced it will begin construction of the Border Wall in Hidalgo County on July 25th.

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