Stop the Wall: Border Action, August 12-13, 2017

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Crosses representing migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background. Image: © Tomas Castelazo, www.tomascastelazo.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

This weekend, Mission, Texas becomes the center of border wall resistance. A coalition of borderlands groups and allies that includes the Save Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club, among others, will march to resist the proposed border walls.

Called to join us? Need a ride? A place to stay? The Sierra Club may be able to hook you up. Interested in putting together a rideshare? Let us know.

While the U.S. Senate hasn’t signed off on the House-approved $1.6 billion for 60 miles of RGV wall construction, that hasn’t stopped the chainsaws from buzzing across at least this nature preserve, the Texas Observer reports.

The Santa Ana Facebook event page announces:

Join us for an ecumenical procession and rally to honor the history and culture of the Rio Grande Valley and the importance of the Rio Grande, as we resist the Trump administration’s call for border walls. Trump’s walls are a manifestation of hate, and would damage our communities and natural areas and cut off our access to the river.

Schedule:
7:00 am–Procession starts at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and ends at La Lomita Mission
9:00 am–Rally begins at La Lomita Mission, including music and speakers
10:30 am to 12:00 pm–Community picnic

There is also a Sunday hike at Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, so make plans to stay overnight.

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Can’t join us? Sign onto the National Wildlife Refuge Association petition targeting Congress and this one targeting the White House.

Beyond the obvious reasons to oppose the border wall, which I saw rip through so much private property in 2007, why target the refuge?

TPR paints this picture:

The Santa Ana National Refuge is one of the few places where the old Rio Grande forest still stands. Thick with thorny brush, trees are occupied by countless cicadas, which fill the hot humid air with their droning call. This is a place filled with life. The refuge is home to exotic birds and rare wild cats including the ocelot.

“Santa Ana has one of the highest rates of biodiversity of any national wildlife refuge in the United States,” says Scott Nicol of the Sierra Club Borderlands Campaign. “It’s also in the middle of the wildlife corridor that was created to give ocelots the ability to access habitat all up and down the Rio Grande.”

The federal government purchased the 2,088 acres for the refuge in 1943 to preserve this disappearing habitat. Because the land is federally owned, building a segment of the border wall here would avoid many of the problems that arise with the seizure of private property. Citing an unnamed U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service official, Nicols says that this is what is happening:

“All of those meetings have been held in secret, so we don’t really know what the full plans are, but it has been leaked that they want to wall off Santa Ana.”

 

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Nicol writes, putting his own red lines down (above) according to federal documents:

Trump’s proposed border walls will hit Starr County hard. In addition to the 28 miles of levee-border wall aimed at Hidalgo County (thanks Mayor Darling and Judge Garcia!) 32 miles would go to Starr, with the longest stretch running through Roma and going all the way up to Falcon Lake. These walls will follow the river, running in and out of the Rio Grande floodplain and endangering people and communities on both sides.

Thankfully, the bumbling federal process alone has thrown a bucket of wrenches into the mix. But we can’t bank on the incompetence of the Trump Administration to sink a cornerstone administrative priority.

WNIS and Penna Group submitted bids to build wall prototypes but failed to make it to a second round of bidders selected in May, according to the email sent to members of Congress.

Penna proposed a wall built of solid concrete in some sections and see-through steel mesh in others.

Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, Penna’s chief executive officer in Fort Worth, said in an interview that competent officials at Customs and Border Protection were under enormous pressure from the Trump White House to meet unrealistic deadlines and that they would be relieved to see the effort “hit the pause button.”

“This is a politically-driven project that doesn’t have any substantive, detailed planning like any of the other federal projects I’ve worked on,” he said. “They can’t keep up. The project is way too complex for the type of time they’ve had to put it together.”

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The Otra Nation proposal advanced by the Made Collective.

Among the many proposals submitted in response to the Trump administration’s RFP process is the Made Collective’s “Otra Nation” (above), a remarkable melding of geopolitics and design-speak  (“The Ultimate Frontier/A Regenerative Open Co-Nation/A Continental Bi-National Socio-EcoTone,” reads the proposal’s subtitle). Misguidedly calling the current frontera “unusable, dead space”, the technophilic website Futurism has thumbs-upped this proposal in particular.

While the Made Collective’s visions of a binational zone of sustainable energy, transit, and trans-national economic development are intriguing, environmental problems remain even with Trump’s unexpected vision of a solar-paneled barrier–chiefly unsustainable water use, impact on wildlife, and unwelcome impacts on this unique ecology through continued development. (Worse still, a proposal to dump radioactive waste at the base of the wall.)

More from the Santa Ana event page:

The Trump Administration is planning to wall off long stretches of the Rio Grande Valley, including important sites like the Historic La Lomita Chapel, which was built in 1865. A wall on the levee next to the Mission could damage the structure and block access to the site. Walls elsewhere would cut off people’s homes, strip farmers of their land, close our parks, and devastate our ecologically sensitive wildlife refuges. Walls do not stop people from crossing, but they do funnel them into remote areas where they are at risk of dying from dehydration and exposure.

This event is hosted by an alliance of groups and individuals that are pushing back against attacks on border communities and defending vulnerable populations. The Trump administration, Congress, and the Texas Legislature have made statements and crafted policies that malign, scapegoat, and abuse the border region and those who live here.

Proposals such as new border walls would inflict real and lasting harm, and they demonstrate a fundamental ignorance of the reality of the border. We will not stand for immigrants, people of color, those living in poverty, members of the LGTBQ community and others being targeted. We demand that federal, state, and local elected officials cease attacks on our community, repudiate the false narratives driving bad policy, and advocate on our behalf.

Sponsors:

A Resource in Serving Equality
Accion de Gracia Inmigracion
Action South Texas
Awesome Women in Action
Call to Action
Center for Biological Diversity
Chimney Park Resort
Church World Service
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Daughters of Charity of the U.S.A
Defenders of Wildlife
Earth Guardians-Rio Grande Valley
Earth Justice
Environmental Awareness Club at UTRGV
Friends of Estero Llano Grande State Park
Friends of Friendship Park
Friends of the Wildlife Corridor
Frontera Audubon
Fuerza del Valle Workers Center
Governing Foundation
Harlingen PFLAG
Hidalgo County Democratic Party
Hidalgo County Young Democrats
Hope Border Institute/Instituto Fronterizo Esperanza
Interfaith Welcome Coalition of San Antonio
La Union del Pueblo Entero
McAllen American Federation of Teachers
Mennonite Central Committee
Mi Familia Vota
Migrant Rights Collective of Houston
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Association of Social Workers
National Butterfly Center
National Council of Jewish Women
North American Butterfly Association
Northern Jaguar Project
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
People for Peace and Justice
Proyecto Azteca
Rio Grande Valley Texas Democratic Women
Sierra Club
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Socialist Party USA
Southwest Environmental Center
Southwestern Association of Naturalists
Stonewall Democrats of the Rio Grande Valley
Texas Civil Rights Project
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hidalgo County
United for Reproductive and Gender Equity
United We Dream
West Hidalgo County Tejano Democrats
Wildlands Project

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