(Please welcome our guest contributor, Marisa Treviño of Latina Lista. It’s great to have her here and if I may gratuitously say it, I hope you bookmark her site, just as I have. — Pach)
A funny thing happened on the way to building the Lower Rio Grande Valley portion of the Texas-Mexico border fence.
It was something that caught Chertoff and the Department of Homeland Security off guard, the White House, Congress and even the average American citizen who lives miles away from the border in question — Texans, who actually live along that portion of the border, don’t want it.
It’s a concept that is hard for the rest of the country to grasp. After all, aren’t border residents living in fear for their lives by living on the frontlines with what conservative extremists like to term “the invasion” of illegal immigrants?
Well, according to border residents, the only invasion they’re feeling is the one from Washington that is dictating that a fence be built through, along and around their communities.
The idea of a physical structure being built is so repulsive to these residents that in a show of rare solidarity, unlike anywhere else seen in the country, activists and environmentalists are joining forces with politicians, business owners and local law enforcement to present to Congress alternative ways to secure this portion of the border.
Border residents have been contending all along that the border fence was an ill-conceived idea. In the original plans, the fence cut right through the University of Texas at Brownsville campus and gave Mexico a prized U.S. historic landmark.
But Washington has barely taken notice of the embarrassing gaffes of the fence map or the combined voices of a constituency for whom officials in Washington seem to be treating like second-class citizens by purposely ignoring their requests that a fence not be built along their communities.
Well, being Texans, these border citizens have had enough. So, they’ve joined with their counterparts in Mexico for the border’s first-ever binational protest.
They’re calling it Hands Across El Rio and it begins August 25.
Spanning 16 days, 1,250 miles, it’s a protest that involves Americans and Mexicans forming human chains across the international bridges, daily binational press conferences and the launch of a flotilla of kayaks, canoes and inner tubes that will paddle down the Rio Grande to each international bridge to join the protests in progress.
Longtime border residents are saying they’ve never seen anything like this before in their lives and the consensus, from both sides of the border, is that this is a historic event.
But what is really amazing is that these organizers, for the most part, are average residents who have felt forced to make their voices heard. Because so many have never participated in a protest, the organizers are sending out a plea for assistance.
If ever there was an example of the Little Guy going up against Big Government, this is it.
At the least, this effort deserves our collective attention. At the most, it deserves our support.