Gov. Greg Abbott and former President Trump are making yet another visit to the Rio Grande Valley, and we don’t expect to see anything new. For star-struck fans of the politicians it will be another chance to bask in the glow of their apparent interest in the region. Opponents will see it as another opportunity to show their numbers and vent their anger over the officials and their anti-immigrant policies.
Don’t expect anything new to come of it.
Trump, whose presidential term was built on is fear of foreigners and ethnic minorities, came several times over the past four years, and each visit essentially was the same. He met with supportive border officials and made public statements about the need to seal off our border, all in a controlled environment that limited interaction with the public. Even announced public forums and town hall meetings, like the one scheduled at this trip, have consisted mostly of declarations, with little give-and-take with members of the public.
People who are passionate about the officials and their agendas likely will be energized by the visit; at this point, however, many of those who have seen it all before might not give it a second thought.
Nor do we expect much more with regard to their announced plans to continue building their touted border wall, which Abbott says will continue on state taxpayers’ dime rather than federal funding. The governor tried to mitigate the reach into Texans’ pockets by asking for donations to help fund the multibillion-dollar project; to date he’s raised about a half million dollars — which many people likely will say provides a fair gauge of public support for his plans.
That questionable support — or lack of it — is apparent in the difficulty Trump and his predecessors have had in building the wall thus far. Those efforts have been going on for more than a decade, begun during the George W. Bush administration. Abbott has expressed confidence that border landowners will be happy to turn over their property to his wishes. It’s safe to assume, however, that anybody who is so inclined has made their land available already. Any existing state easements, which the governor also has mentioned, surely would have been offered to the federal border barrier by now.
The reality, which isn’t likely to change, is that much of this land has been tied up in litigation for years, as property owners resist government efforts to take the land and build the wall.
That opposition isn’t likely to change either, especially as evidence continues to mount about the wall’s ineffectiveness. Reports abound of people easily going over the barriers, cutting through them and even digging under them — not just in the soft sands of the Arizona and New Mexico desert — police already have found a tunnel running from Matamoros to the Southmost area of Brownsville — under the Rio Grande.
There are better ways to secure our borders, with active vigilance and improved technology. Building expensive Soviet-style monuments to the people who ordered them only diverts funding from measures that have proven to be better.
Continued talk about border walls is getting old. It’s time to move on to something better.