I know folks in Texas have had their attention diverted of late by Perry y Co.’s war on reproductive rights, but the goings-on in our Texas Capitol’s roiling rotunda haven’t slowed federal efforts to complete the Security State’s conquest of the U.S.-Mexico borderland.
Despite the collapse of illegal immigration, Republicans are pushing punishingly expensive policies into proposed immigration reform measures in an attempt to wall off northern Mexico from the U.S. and move another 20,000 border agents into la frontera.
The $30-billion taxpayer boondoggle is so bad event the National Association of Former Border Patrol Agents are protesting against it.
According to The Washington Times:
Deploying 20,000 more U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southwestern border as proposed in an immigration reform bill passed by the Senate would be “a huge waste of resources,” according to former border agents, who say that money should be used to track down dangerous criminal aliens nationwide.
Criminal aliens pose a “clear and present danger” to the American people and anything resembling amnesty or a path to citizenship at this point in time “will ensure further endangerment of the American family unit,” according to the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO), a group that includes several former Border Patrol sector chiefs and former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service regional directors.
“We believe there are a sufficient number of Border Patrol agents on the border,” said NAFBPO Chairman Zack Taylor, a retired Border Patrol agent and supervisor who spent 26 years patrolling the Mexican border in Texas and Arizona. “Real border security must begin with effective interior enforcement in every jurisdiction in all 50 states.”
The “real question” facing Congress is how many U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will need to be trained and put into place to handle the sheer number of criminal aliens in the U.S.
Less forward in the debate, however, has been a recognition of the immense damages past wall-building has done to the borderland’s natural environment — or debate over what would follow the wall’s “completion.”
Char Miller takes aim here with an evocative offering at KCET’s website, “The ‘Border Surge’ is Dangerous Political Theater — and Bad for the Environment.”
There is another reason why the “border surge” is such an anathema. If the House follows the Senate’s lead — and at this writing it is not clear that it will — this legislation will further devastate the borderlands environment. As I argue in my new book, “On the Edge: Water, Immigration, and Politics in the Southwest,” the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which was the first step in what is now a seven-year-long attack on this remarkably varied terrain, cut through, blasted, bulldozed, and flattened some of the most remote, beautiful, and biodiverse landscapes in the southwest.
To build the infamous wall, canyons were filled in, wilderness areas were sliced in half, wildlife refugees were truncated, and human communities were similarly severed. In an attempt to legitimize these blunt-force actions, the George W. Bush administration not only set aside key provisions of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act to expedite the wall’s construction, it also ran roughshod over the private property rights of ranchers and homeowners.
The “border surge” will only add to this heedless — and needless — destruction. It will further militarize a landscape that already bristles with men in arms; it will intensify the criminalization of the land and anyone found on it, whether citizen or not; it will erect additional barriers compromising the life chances of those species — avian or terrestrial — that for millennia have migrated back and forth across what some now decree must be an impenetrable boundary.
What we have failed to recognize is that when we terrorize this terrain, we are sending ourselves a message about the brittleness of our society, about how unsettled we are by our deep-seated fears of The Other. One of these unstated worries is the realization that a border wall, no matter how stout, will make us less secure, not more. In savaging the land, we undercut ourselves.
And because everyone loves a good infographic (h/t Char Miller): Here is the muro del odio broken down by the dollar, courtesy of Cambio.
Top image is U.S. Air Force personnel looking out of place in the Sonoran Desert as part of Operation Jump Start back in 2007.