Category Archives: Commentary

COMMENTARY: Trump’s border wall threatens Starr County

The plans for President Donald Trump’s border walls in Starr County are extreme and alarming.

Standing 20- to 30-feet tall, the structures would be the tallest border walls ever built in the United States and would wall off 32 miles of the Rio Grande in three sections, the longest of which would run from Roma all the way to Falcon Lake. The other two sections would be built on the southern edge of Rio Grande City and La Grulla. Each of the sections would be made of bollards — eight-inch wide steel posts with four-inch wide gaps. The footprint would include a 150-foot “enforcement zone” lining the south, or river side, of the wall where all vegetation would be cleared.

If the walls are built, these towns and the smaller communities of Salineño and Chapeño would be cut off from the river that is responsible for their very existence. Residents could lose access to the river for recreation, and the character of these historic communities would be spoiled.

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COMMENTARY: Who is going to rebuild Texas after storms?

It has been over a month since Hurricane Harvey brought destruction and devastation to Houston and the Texas Coast, and it is time to rebuild and heal. As Houston and the Texas Coast begin to recover, many questions still need answering in the aftermath of Harvey, that according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, may cost upwards of $180 billion. Some estimates suggest more than 200,000 homes were damaged by the storm, and that doesn’t even include the countless businesses and commercial properties needing repair.

The biggest question is: Who is going to rebuild Texas? The answer is, probably immigrants, many of whom will be undocumented.

Texas was facing a labor shortage way before Hurricane Harvey struck. The anti-immigrant sentiment at the national and state levels have been driving immigrants and hard workers back into the shadows while some just opted to leave Texas. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, a survey of its members, conducted before Hurricane Harvey, showed 58 percent struggled to fill carpentry jobs and 53 percent were having trouble finding electricians and bricklayers.

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COMMENTARY: A somber march to protest a border wall in the RGV

MISSION — Sometimes the things that register most prominently in our minds actually began quite subtly.

Case in point: last Saturday’s border wall protest in Mission when over 1,000 people walked 4.2 miles in a somber, almost reflective procession that was both moving and impactful — and showed a unity of purpose in our community unmatched by other recent gatherings.

There was the elderly grandmother walking quietly, moving her lips as she clutched a rosary.

A poodle was pushed in a purple baby stroller by its silent and smiling owner.

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COMMENTARY: Supporting RAISE Act, which makes media ‘bonkers’

A bill introduced last week that would cut legal immigration by about half, and make other reductions, has sent the mainstream media into a tailspin. And during its downward spiral, reporters have showed little understanding of current immigration policy and have demonstrated an unprofessional level of bias.

Let’s set the stage. Republican Senators Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, and David Perdue, of Georgia, introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. In addition to reducing legal immigration from about 1 million annually to 500,000, it would emphasize skilled-based, rather than family-based, immigration. In other words, the obvious — instead of random, low-skilled immigrants arriving who might have family ties in the United States, newcomers would have to speak English and have abilities that might contribute to the economy. Nuclear family members could continue to come, but not adult siblings, etc.

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COMMENTARY: Will Trump attack Mother Nature in the RGV?

Donald Trump continues to recklessly push one of the most anti-American promises of any United States president by wasting tens of billions of tax dollars nationwide on an ill-advised border wall.

Some are reporting that he has targeted the Rio Grande Valley — specifically the federally-owned Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge — as the most recent launching pad for his dangerous notions of America, which are based on ignorance, fear, and bigotry.

Situated along the Rio Grande, just seven miles south of Alamo, is our beloved Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. This area is one of the top birding locations in the world and home to the endangered ocelot and jaguarundi. The refuge serves as a habitat for coyotes, bobcats, armadillos, and over 400 bird species.

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COMMENTARY: Protecting private property and the National Butterfly Center

I am not terribly fond of butterflies. I feel about them much the same way I feel about rabbits. Butterflies are to cockroaches as rabbits are to rats: they may be wrapped in a prettier package, but we all know what family they belong to. So, if you are looking for rhapsodic sentimentality here, move on.

However the butterfly does have a useful part in our world. Butterflies are pollinators. No pollination means no plants. No plants mean no animals. Butterflies are also food for other animals. They are a low hanging part of the food chain and provide food for birds, reptiles, small mammals and even fish. Butterflies are also an indicator species. They are like frogs; they are sensitive to environmental changes. Like canaries in the coal mine, their health becomes a useful marker for the rest of us. If they are in trouble, maybe we should start paying attention. In truth, humans must accept the fact that since we are perched upon the top of the evolutionary ladder we are the only rung that is — well — unnecessary.

But that is not what is bothering me about reports that on July 20 federal work crews invaded the National Butterfly Center in Mission to study the area and its soil for erecting a border wall there.

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COMMENTARY: Contemplating our future with border walls in South Texas

Last Sunday morning, about 40 people assembled in the City of Hidalgo at the Hidalgo Pumphouse & Museum for a community hike. Their goal: To get a firsthand look at our present border/levee fence and to get educated on what adding to it, or building a border wall — which President Donald Trump’s Administration wants to do — would do to our South Texas communities.

They included college students, college professors, members of LUPE, the Sierra Club, children, families and senior citizens. There even were four dogs in tow. What they all had in common was a desire to educate themselves on this contentious immigration issue that is at our nation’s forefront right now — one in which our region is caught in the crosshairs.

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