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Officials from Texas' border region work to generate opposition to fence

Officials from Texas' border region work to generate opposition to fence

Legislators and local leaders from Texas' border region worked in the state Capitol to generate opposition to President George W. Bush's planned border fence, saying it is unnecessary and would hurt economic ties with Mexico.
"It's clear that our state leaders, and I'm going to say the Legislature as a whole _ I can't speak for every member _ is not in support of this wall. It will bring negative effects," said Sen. Eddie Lucio, a Democrat from Brownsville.
The outcry came after a new map emerged showing federal plans for the border fence. Border community leaders said they were assured they would be able to give their input before any fence plans went forward, but they said that never happened.
They said more Border Patrol officers and camera surveillance are better ways to use the money and that the Rio Grande provides a natural river barrier that could be more easily patrolled if thick brush were cleared from its banks.
The Customs and Border Protection map depicts a planned structure running piecemeal along a 600-mile (965-kilometer) stretch of Texas from Presidio to Brownsville.
"I think the president himself needs to get a gauge in his home state," Lucio said.
Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, a Democrat from McAllen Democrat, called the proposed fence a "wall of shame."
Members of the Texas Border Coalition, consisting of border mayors, county judges and economic development commissions, met with Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Wednesday and aides to Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick. They said both leaders offered support for their opposition to the fence.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry did not meet with the group Wednesday because his schedule was full, an aide said. In the past, Perry has said he disagrees with those who want a wall or fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, although he has said some fencing in urban areas makes sense.
"Building a wall along the border is not an answer to securing the border. It would create a false sense of security," said Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger. "The governor does believe that strategic fencing along high population areas makes sense."
But more manpower and other security measures _ not an unmanned wall _ are better options, she said.
Texas' two U.S. senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, have said they want to make sure local officials and property owners have input on the fence plan.
No one wants border security more than Texans who live along the border, but a fence or wall is not the way to achieve it, said Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition. He said a barrier constructed along the Rio Grande could affect runoff, river flow and wildlife.
It also would hurt important economic and other relationships between Texas and Mexico that have taken years to build, said state Rep. Veronica Gonzales, a McAllen Democrat. She said a fence is a short-sighted answer from the federal government, which should instead concentrate on comprehensive immigration reform.
"The wall is just an expensive solution to nothing," she said. "We best know what should happen along the border because we live there."
Documents outlining the fence project show plans to build 370 miles (595 kilometers) of fence and 200 miles (320 kilometers) of vehicle barriers by the end of 2008. Of the 370 miles (595 kilometers) of fence, Texas is to have 153 miles (246 kilometers).
Bush last year called for 700 miles (1,125 kilometers) of border fence, and Congress approved it. Of the $1.2 billion (euro880 million) approved by Congress, at least $400 million (euro294 million) has been released.


Updated : 2021-08-05 19:30 GMT+08:00