Category Archives: Commentary

COMMENTARY: This is the Rio Grande Valley that I know and love

We don’t live in a warzone.

You may have seen the latest report of the Department of Interior dispatching its Park Police and National Park Service law enforcement officers to “secure the U.S.-Mexico border.” To an outside observer, it sure looks like the Texas/Mexico border, including the Rio Grande Valley, is a warzone. To those of us who live here, it’s our home.

The recent rhetoric and policies from the federal government targeting the borderlands certainly create an image of lawlessness and rampant violent crime. Anyone who has lived here for a while will tell you that we live our lives like most people around the country, with the good, the bad and the ugly.

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COMMENTARY: The fight against a border wall continues

Our fight to stop the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley just got harder.

Last week, Congress passed a budget bill that gives the Trump administration a billion and a half dollars for border walls, but does absolutely nothing to protect Dreamers.

The new law provides “$445,000,000 for 25 miles of primary pedestrian levee fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector,” according to the Omnibus bill language.

Ever since Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia and McAllen Mayor Jim Darling last year wrote to the secretary of Homeland Security suggesting levee-border walls, the Trump administration has been pushing the idea of turning all of Hidalgo County’s existing Rio Grande levees into levee-border walls. In 2009, 22 miles of our levees were turned into levee-border walls, and the scheme Garcia and Darling promoted would have converted the remaining 28 miles. With the three miles of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo protected from a border wall, that leaves 25 miles, the exact amount in the bill.

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COMMENTARY: I am looking forward to 2042

In 2042, I will be 96 years old. New Year’s Day will be on a Wednesday and Easter Sunday will fall on April 6. Fossil fuels should be at the beginning of their end. Cars will be self-driving. We will eat less meat. Currency will become obsolete as electronic movement of money will be automatically added to blockchains of financial interactions.

But there will be one more change that will be subtle, slow, but increasingly obvious to all of us: By 2042, white people will become the minority population in the United States. Thanks to an immigration rate of 2 million people per year, I will no longer enter a restaurant and see a sea of faces that look just like mine. Colors of clothes and makeup will likely lend themselves to the bold colors that go well with warm skin tones, instead of the pastels and neutrals that suit cool Nordic coloring. My grandchildren will be in school, at work and choosing life partners from a population that does not look like me.

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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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