Friday, April 4, 2008

To add your name to the letter, go to:


This letter was signed by over 25 human rights and environmental groups and activists, as well as border residents and concerned U.S. citizens.

April 1, 2008 was the beginning of a very sad time for millions of us on the border, in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, and throughout the U.S. The Bush administration issued two waivers on April 1 that circumvent dozens of U.S. environmental and other laws to pave the way for wall construction to begin immediately on the Texas border, and to continue on the New Mexico, Arizona and California borders.

With such an action, spearheaded by DHS Secretary Chertoff, the Federal Government shows a major failure to work and consult with border communities on the wall issue. Clearly, Chertoff is flexing his muscle upon the border residents. Instead of dialogue and consultation we, at the border, will receive imposition and unconstitutionality.

We on the border know that a wall won't work, and that it is not a real solution. Many others know this also. We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, are trying to educate the public and elected officials about how the wall and militarization of the border will profoundly impact the wildlife, the environment, our river and the lives and rights of people on both sides of the border. The executive branch of our government and the U.S. Congress, by their actions, do not seem to care about any of that.

We believe that Americans must realize before it is too late that their government is wasting taxpayer money in building an 18-foot-high barrier along sections of the border, as well as in increasing the militarization of the border communities, in a vain attempt to close the border.

In three Texas counties, DHS intends to combine walls with the existing flood control levees. By building this structure before it has been thoroughly evaluated for safety and effectiveness, DHS is recklessly endangering lives and property of border residents in these areas.

We all now must endure an unimaginably difficult time during which our nation's fears are manifested in an ancient, ugly form -- a wall –- and manifested even more by increased militarization. In China, Berlin, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland, WALLS DIDN'T WORK. They definitely don't work in the U.S. either. They, primarily, decimate human rights and show intolerance and rejection. They kill hundreds of people annually in the U.S. because they drive people crossing the border to walk through more remote areas of desert where many then die of dehydration and exposure.

After lessons are learned, most walls are taken down. Thereafter, the wall builders are ridiculed, if they are acknowledged at all. Walls have failed to keep people out (or in) but, however, have damaged both human and riparian habitat permanently.

The Rio Grande is a very sacred and special place, with several wildlife refuges that will be devastated by a wall. In New Mexico, California, and Arizona, there are many special and sacred places along the border, including wildlife refuges and tribal lands, where a wall has already been built, unbeknownst to most Americans. Many of us have lived, farmed, and ranched along the border for generations. We urge the American public to hold on to images of the border, its people, and the environment as worth protecting, and to keep in mind that the wall is temporary because it was born of a failed policy.

We the undersigned ask Americans not to let a wall divide our border community. Even though the executive branch of the current administration has exercised undue power to bring about the construction, we the people must call, write and organize to stop the wall. If it is built, we must demand that it be taken down. We ask the American public to keep foremost in their minds the fact that the border area encompasses one community that includes both sides.

By our actions and our words, we must hold to peace along the border. Compassion, understanding and hope must inform the struggle that is by necessity taking place on many levels right now along the U.S.-Mexico border. We demand that our border communities not be devastated by a wall and by militarization.

We will not remain silent as our country's constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms and even its laws are swept aside in the name of greed, fear and anti-immigrant fervor under the guise of "improving national security." Our country was founded on Constitutional protections as well as immigration, both of which are historically the very basis of what makes us American.

Americans need to wake up to the fact that signs of tyranny and imposition now exist in the United States of America, in the form of a Cabinet member, Michael Chertoff, who is allowed to use his legislatively-granted power to waive all U.S. law in order to implement a failed anti-immigrant policy. That cannot be allowed to go on any longer.

We the undersigned ask that Americans write their Congressional Representatives as well as their President and demand that the impacts of wall-building and militarization of the border be fully studied and fully acknowledged, and that humane, affordable, wise and workable solutions be found and implemented instead.

Very sincerely,

Fernando Garcia, Director, Border Network for Human Rights, El Paso, Texas
Eve Trook, co-founder, No Wall - Big Bend Coalition and member, Veterans for Peace, Alpine, Texas
Adrienne Evans, co-founder, No Wall - Big Bend Coalition, Terlingua, Texas
Luissana Santibanez, immigrant rights activist, Grassroots Leadership Austin, Austin, Texas
MEChA Austin
Iris Rodriguez, La Nueva Raza
Arnoldo Garcia from National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Oakland, California
Turk and Christy Pipkin, The Nobelity Project, Austin, Texas
Louis Black, editor, The Austin Chronicle
Michael Ventura, writer, The Austin Chronicle
C. Denby Swanson, writer, Austin, Texas
Joe Ely, musician/artist, Austin, Texas
Sharon Ely, artist, Austin, Texas
Alice Guynn, poet, Austin, Texas
Mary Jo Galindo, Ph.D., Archaeologist, Austin, Texas
Librada Perez Giese, Austin, Texas
Saira and Doug Morgan, Austin, Texas
Antonio Diaz, Spokesperson, Texas Indigenous Council, San Antonio, Texas
Ruben Solis, Spokesperson, Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, Texas
K. Sheridan Coffey, member, San Antonio Audubon Society, San Antonio, Texas
Anne M. Goodwin, San Antonio, Texas
Jill Goodwin, Texas citizen, San Antonio, Texas
Marisa Treviño, Publisher, Latina Lista
Peter and Sherry Dana, immigrant activists, Georgetown, Texas
Elizabeth H. Mealy, Ph.D., Georgetown, Texas
Jonathan Brotzman, historian, Johnson City, Texas
Jim Chapman, Chair, Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Sierra Club
Scott Nicol, professor and co-founder, No Border Wall Coalition, and member, Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club Group Executive Committee, Weslaco, Texas
Stefanie Herweck, co-founder, No Border Wall Coalition, Weslaco, Texas
Martin Hagne, Executive Director, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, Texas
Wayne Bartholomew, Executive Director, Frontera Audubon Society, Weslaco, Texas and board member, Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, Alamo, Texas
Tom Goynes, President, Texas Rivers Protection Association
Mary Lou Campbell, member, Sierra Club, Frontera Audubon Society, No Border Wall Coalition, Mercedes, Texas
Alice Hempel, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Kingsville, Texas
Betty Perez, No Border Wall Coalition, rancher, native plants grower, member of the Sierra Club, Friends of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the Wildlife Corridor, Valley Nature Center, La Joya, Texas
Susan Thompson, native plants grower, La Joya, Texas
Joel Brotzman, Harlingen, Texas
Chris M. van Dyck, Scientific Illustrator, McAllen, Texas
Jan and Kyle Welch, McAllen, Texas
Gerard Vaello, member, No Border Wall Coalition, Border Ambassadors, Holy Spirit Peace & Justice Group, McAllen, Texas
Reynaldo Anzaldua, retired Supervisory Customs Inspector, Donna, Texas
E. Elizabeth Garcia, co-founder and spokesperson, CASA (Coalition of Amigos in Solidarity and Action), Brownsville, Texas
Elsa Duarte-Noboa, educator/activist, Brownsville, Texas
Julio Noboa, professor/activist, Brownsville,Texas
Francisco Solis Garcia, Jr., Aventura Boats, Brownsville, Texas
Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr., Border Ambassador and Freedom Ambassador, Del Rio, Texas
Sarah Boone, Border Ambassador and Freedom Ambassador, Del Rio, Texas
Bill Guerra Addington, and spokesperson, El Paso Regional Group of the Sierra Club, Sierra Blanca, Texas, co-founder of Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund
Heather McMurray, environmental activist, teacher, and member, El Paso Regional Group of the Sierra Club, El Paso, Texas
Briana Stone, Director, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, El Paso, Texas
Guillermo Glenn, Director, Asociacion de Trabajadores Fronterizos, El Paso, Texas
Iliana Holguin, Executive Director/Attorney at Law, Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, El Paso, Texas
West Cosgrove, Community and Religious Activist, El Paso, Texas
Dr. Kathleen Staudt, Professor and community activist, El Paso, Texas
Ruben Garcia, Director, Annunciation House, El Paso, Texas
Veronica Escobar, El Paso County Commissioner, Precinct 2, El Paso, Texas
Jose Rodriguez, El Paso County Attorney, El Paso, Texas
Tony and Christian Perez-Giese, El Paso, Texas
Martha Ryan Stafford, public school teacher, Terlingua, Texas
Diane Walker, public school teacher, Terlingua, Texas
Kassi Williams, public school teacher, Terlingua, Texas
Butch Hancock, musician/artist, Terlingua, Texas
Joanne James, clergywoman, Terlingua, Texas
Sally Bergmann Cervenka, Terlingua, Texas
Mimi Webb Miller, Terlingua, Texas; Los Angeles CA
Allison K. Fullwood, artist, Terlingua, Texas
Cynta De Narvaez, border activist, Terlingua, Texas
Gary Oliver, cartoonist, Marfa, Texas
Andrew Stuart, journalist, Marfa, Texas
Verena Zbinden, Marfa, Texas
Evelyn Luciani, citizen, Marfa, Texas
Eleanor Taylor, peace activist, Ft. Davis, Texas
Jan Woodward, CFO, Woodward Ranch, Brewster County, Texas
Simone Swan, founder, Adobe Alliance, Presidio, Texas
Jesusita Jimenez, Project Manager, Adobe Alliance, Presidio, Texas
Julia West, teacher, Presidio, Texas
Clarence Russeau, family advocate, Alpine, Texas
Mary Schwartze, mother of two and nature enthusiast, Alpine, Texas
Linda Shank Eller, mother, grandmother, CPA, Alpine, Texas
Redford Citizens Committee For Justice, Redford, Texas
The Rev. Melvin Walker La Follette, Redford, Texas
Barbara J. Baskin, Redford, Texas
Don Dowdey, Chair, Big Bend Regional Sierra Club, Alpine, Texas
Fran Sage, Member, Big Bend Regional Sierra Club, Alpine, Texas
Dallas Baxter, journalist, Alpine, Texas
Jerry Mitchell, contractor, Alpine, Texas
Hiram and Liz Sibley, Alpine, Texas
Rachel and Chris Sibley, Austin, Texas
Roger Siglin, Alpine, Texas
Susan Curry, citizen activist, Alpine, Texas
Tom Curry, artist/builder, Alpine, Texas
Dee Perkins, Alpine, Texas
Glen Perkins, builder, Alpine, Texas
Judy Ford, Alpine, Texas
Molly Walker, Alpine, Texas
Dr. Marilyn Dell Brady, Alpine, Texas
Karen Nakakihara, Alpine, Texas
James Wightman, Tax Consultant, Alpine, Texas
Patricia Manning, Environmental Science Technician, Alpine, Texas
Michael Stevens, guitar builder, Alpine, Texas
Alice Stevens, Plant Nursery owner, Alpine, Texas
Pilar Pedersen, Alpine, Texas
Gaylan Corbin, Alpine, Texas
Amelie Urbanczyk, Alpine, Texas
Mary Ann Matteson, Alpine, Texas
Pollyanne Melton, realtor, Alpine, Texas
Wendy Lynn Wright, artist, Casa Piedra, Texas
Marilyn Lamin, teacher and storyteller, Bedford, Texas
Ann Williams Cass, Texas
Waverly Evans, Texas
Joe Evans, Texas
T.R. Mackin, Texas
Linda Bedre, Texas
Carol A. Niemi, Texas
Deirdre Anderson, Texas
Jaomi Brasher, Texas
Jessica Brasher, Texas
Ryan McNairy, Texas
Nat Stone, The Rock House Project, Zuni, New Mexico
Steve Harris, Executive Director, Rio Grande Restoration, Taos, New Mexico
Rachel Freer, visiting scholar at Arizona State Museum, Tucson, Arizona
Marcy Campbell Krinsk, San Diego, California
Lily Keber, documentary filmmaker, New Orleans, Louisiana
Ginger Geronimo, Alabama
Mike Downs, Missouri
D. A. Vickers, Media Credit Manager, Detroit, Michigan
Laura Garcia, Tribuno del Pueblo Newspaper, Chicago, Illinois
Maia Bielak, Illinois
Mary Goodwin, Apple Valley, Minnesota
Maya Zniewski, mom, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cara Gubrud, Minnesota
Jove Graham, University of Washington, graduate student, pre-med, Seattle, Washington
Peter Bloch Garcia, Washington
Brian Cutean, human being, Portland, Oregon
Liz and Jeff Gordon, Lewes, Delaware
Leonard Cox, River Films, New York
Elisa DeLapa, New York
Yasmina Rossi, New York
David Dunkleberger, Pennsylvania
Nicky Elizabeth, Maine
Terry L. West, West Virginia
Jennifer Johnson, Policy Associate, Latin America Working Group, Washington, D.C.
Rev. Dr. Mari E. Castellanos, JWM/United Church of Christ, Washington D.C.
Anne Seidel, Germany
Ines Seidel, Germany
Thomas Pirovano, Switzerland
Armelle Henry, France
Steve Dale, Australia
Steve Klein, Canada
Chum Richardson, Canada
Can Atik, Turkey

Friday, March 7, 2008

Roma to Brownsville Walk

Border Fence Protest Walk
Starts Saturday

March 6, 2008 - 8:26PM
For more information:
More information about the protest is available by contacting event organizer and Border Ambassadors member John Moore at (956) 203-1499.

A South Texas group plans to protest the federal government’s construction of a security fence along the U.S. border with Mexico by embarking Saturday on 126-mile walk across the Rio Grande Valley.

“We have been talking about it for a long time, trying to get the picture across that it is not just Brownsville, but there is a lot of cities that are going to be affected,” said Crystal Canales, a 20-year-old University of Texas-Brownsville student who plans to take part in the nine-day walk. “The main thing is we are trying to support the people who have been sued.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has filed lawsuits throughout South Texas in recent months to gain access to private property to construct a fence intended to halt illegal immigration. In Hidalgo County, the federal government is constructing a concrete wall that also will serve to reinforce the area’s dilapidated levee system.

Canales said the protesters hope to grab the federal government’s attention with their protest march from Roma to Brownsville.

“We don’t want a fence built in our backyard,” she said.

Border Ambassadors, a grassroots network devoted to opposing the border fence and responsible for organizing the upcoming protest, has hosted five protest walks in the Rio Grande Valley, said John Moore, who helped organize the upcoming trek.

The walk, which is open to the public, is expected to start at 9:30 a.m. daily Saturday through March 16. Walkers will begin at the historic plaza in downtown Roma near City Hall and end up at UTB, where a rally is scheduled.

Each leg of the walk is between 10 and 16 miles. Walkers will stay overnight at Catholic churches along the way, or they can arrange for their own transportation between their homes and the starting and ending points each day.

Walkers also are free to participate in as little or as much of the trek as they want, even if that means walking just a portion of one of the legs.

Border Ambassadors has arranged for vehicles to follow along the protest route to carry walkers’ supplies. Participants are advised to bring a change of clothes, a sleeping bag, a water bottle and any necessary medications. Vehicles will also be close by in case of an emergency, Canales said.

Food and water will be provided throughout the walk.

“We think that it would be a great idea to get the community involved,” Canales said. “We think it will be a great way to get not just local attention, but national attention. We are going about this in a peaceful way to get people to listen.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

International Women's Day Protest and Peace Walk this Saturday

Hello, Friends and Sisters,

Saturday is International Women's Day.

I am organizing the International Women's Day Protest and Peace Walk against the T. Don Hutto prison that has incarcerated non-criminal, non-Mexican immigrant families seeking asylum since June 2006. Imprisoning innocent children and babies is wrong, and more people of Texas need to stand up and say so.

The peace walk will begin at 3:30 p.m.,Saturday, March 8, at the Heritage Park in downtown Taylor (directions below) and end across the street from the prison, about 1.25 miles away. Please assemble at Heritage Park at 3:00 p.m. We will rally peacefully across the street at the Hutto prison until just after sunset, when we will have a short candlelight vigil and prayer ceremony.

Activists from other groups who staged several protests at the Hutto prison will be joining us. We are all committed to a non-violent peace walk and rally.

To find out more about the Hutto prison:

There is a PBS documentary, "America's Family Prison," one can download from the above website. Scroll down and click on "watch short film on Hutto" and it loads immediately if you have high-speed internet.

Please watch the film, write a poem, draw a picture, or make a statement, put it on a posterboard with marker, and meet us there. We'll have water to stay hydrated and snacks. Bring an umbrella in case of rain.

As friends, and as Texas women, mothers, and girls, let's join together and make a stand against this injustice inflicted on women and children by our government. What better way to spend International Women's Day? Men and boys and their poems are welcome, too!

Free the Children Coalition, an ad hoc grass roots organization, as well as other local activists, will be present. Free the Families with Children behind the walls of Hutto prison.

Yours in sisterhood,

Adrienne Evans
Terlingua, Texas
(915) 276-0402 (cell)
(432) 371-2725 (home)


Take I-35 N toward Waco. From Downtown Austin, about 17 miles.
Take Exit 253, go right on US-79 N, go 15.4 miles into the center of Taylor. Heritage Park is on Main & 4th. The Walk is about 1.25 mile in distance straight down Main St. which converts into I-95. Take a right on Walnut (Martin Luther King Memorial Way) then a right again onto Welch, and you will be in front of T. D. Hutto Residential Center. The street address is 1001 Welch, Taylor, Texas.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

At our recent meeting in Presidio I mentioned my idea of a 16 ft. high wall to dramatize the proposed border wall. Dave Long suggested it be portable. I have taken some of his ideas and some of my own and am prepared to build one this weekend with the following specifications:Frame constructed of 3/4 inch black steel pipe and measuring 8 ft. wide by 16 ft. high. Off the shelf threaded fittings would be used to fasten the sections together. The frame would be filled with extruded metal lathe such as used in stucco wall construction. It could be easily folded in half, width and length wise to fit in a pickup bed. It would be mounted on a frame of 2 by 6's which would also be carried in the truck bed. The frame would be anchored with sand bags to keep the wall upright in strong winds. It could be dismantled easily with small pipe wrenches.Unless people object I will build it this weekend in my garage and cover the cost of materials myself. I do not think the cost will exceed $250. Clarence Russeau and Eve Trook have volunteered to help. Volunteers would be needed to arrange demonstrations and locations to protest the wall and make people aware of the visual impacts the border wall will have. Photos or diagrams showing the impact of virtual walls would also be desirable. They will require wide swaths of cleared land, roads, and lights with cameras on 100 ft. towers.If anyone objects or thinks it is a lousy idea they should email me immediately. It has been 1.5 weeks since our meeting and this weekend is my last chance to help. I can be reached at or 432-364-2399.Roger Siglin

(each needs more people to work with it; many can be replicated in other towns than the town where each is beginning; let the digest ( know where YOUR project is happening; new projects will be posted here Mondays and added to the website as a way to link with other other NO WALL activists who seek to collaborate with a group)

BORDER WALL WALKS PROJECTS (COMBINED WITH MOBILE WALL PROJECT) by Mexican/U.S. citizens on or as near as possible to the levees where the wall sections are planned for spring 2008 construction: 6.1 miles at Presidio and 4.7 miles in Hudspeth County.

David Long, Roger Siglin , Eric Hernandez, Father Mel: MOBILE WALL FOR NO-WALL RALLIES: LOCALLY, REGIONALLY and NATIONALLY. Build a sample of what the wall will look like: light weight and trailerable - easy to travel around with - have several panels of it - put the panels along the highways as a demonstration between towns - use it with a walk through Presidio - plans on the NO WALL website to encourage others to do the same - take it to demonstrations along the River to show exactly what a wall will be (specs for the wall are in the Environmental Assessment on line and distributed at the Marfa Open House: two types will be used in the Marfa Sector, one in Presidio and the other in the Sierra Blanca wall section). This project was decided on instead of a border wall walk, an expensive and logistically difficult feat for the hundreds of people wishing to do something against the border wall; the group decided that the Mobile Wall Panels Project provides publicity which efficiently educates the public visually, often, and well about the Wall.

Julie West : ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT PROJECT. Students in Presidio and Ojinaga will create environmentally related posters about the wall and write student editorials.Roberto Lujan : KNOW YOUR RIGHTS PROJECT. Create a back pocket flyer based on TRLA designed brochures which spell out immigration and border rights for all citizens, in English and Spanish. Printing, distribution along the border communities.

Lee : OJINAGA STUDENT WALL PROJECT - Mexican students will design posters showing their bonds across the border; it is not just US students who feel one with the adjoining Mexican communities


- BORDER HOTLINE PHONE / VIDEO PROJECT: documenting border crossing interactions as well as checkpoint interactions to keep the, border feeling safe for citizens of both nations, see

Clarence Russeau : BUSINESS CARD PROJECT - wide distribution of cards with BORDER HOT-LINE number for documenting harrassment

David Shane Duke, Nat Stone, Cynta de Narvaez : BORDER VIDEO PETITION PROJECT - production of video clips on both sides of the border, all walks of life, interviews re the border wall, posted on YouTube, (three of Nat Stone's videos are posted there now), national/international distribution, teaching people to use video cameras for documentation

Father Mel : REDFORD CITIZENS GROUP PROJECT (begun with the death of Ezekiel Hernandez) reactivating

Barbara Baskin (432-384-2396) : NO WALL ORDINANCE/RESOLUTION PROJECT - Alpine is considering a no wall resolution. Berkeley CA has passed one. Presidio Mayor requested language for one. Project will collect and make available resolution language for governments to consider and pass.

Martha Stafford : DOOR TO DOOR PROJECT (Terlingua-Study Butte-GhostTown) Distribution and discussion of TRLA Know Your Rights brochures.

Adrienne Evans : NO WALL STRATEGY CONFERENCE, SAN ANTONIO PROJECT - Adrienne will provide 12 riders space in her van. Southwest Workers Union will provide housing with members. Or motel rooms can be shared. No cost for conference. February 22-24 (Begins Friday evening, ends noon on Sunday, so home that evening).

- CHILDREN ON THE BRIDGE PROJECT: exchange on the bridge itself, pictures that the children draw and letters that they write about the border wall

Eve Trook : NONVIOLENT PEACEFORCE PROJECT - nonviolent workshop for communicating with Border Patrol, available in each regional community on request


-Local Government resolutions against the wall -Talking to your neighbors and friends -Video petition/documentary -Youtube videos that we collect and send to local officials- -Make the politicians aware of the border culture, educate the politicians.


-Get the land owners connected -Human rights observers
-What is a virtual wall - information-REAL ID ACT workshop/education - "ANY AND ALL" laws may be waived by Chertoff if they impede building the wall - therefore no environmental laws will protect the river - 19 laws waived in just one Arizona park

MEXICO'S CONSUL SPOKE ABOUT HIS GOVERNMENT'S VIEW OF THE WALL - "this is not the way to sort out these problems, especially in the 21st century"... In reference to immigration - border between the developing world and highly developed world - US has taken immigrants as contribution to its power - the contributions of immigrants, not just Mexican, have been large - immigrants are not terrorists (poster with famous american immigrants) - Mexico - the environment will be severely affected by the wall. Along the border - cooperation is on both sides of the border - the sides depend on each other. There is a lack of knowledge nationally of what is happening on the border - development and cooperation reach through the border and contribute to existence on both sides of the border. Yes, we have to stop drug trafficking - where there is a market there are sellers and in BOTH countries we do not deal with that. There are international groups (gangs, mafia) who are working against both Mexico and the United STates - we have to fight that, not divide communities. -Is the govt. of Mexico willing to sue the US over environmental damage? Consul does not know.


Rodriguez calls on Chertoff to liaise with border communities about border wall By María González-Escareño

U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez

LAREDO, February 6 - U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez has written to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting enforcement of a new law that requires formal consultation with border communities affected by the proposed border wall.
Public Law 110-161 was a provision written into the Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed in December by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, and Rodriguez.

Aside from requiring DHS to consult with local governments and communities, it also stipulates that no funds will be released for border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology until DHS has complied with P.L. 110-161.

Last week, Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, wrote Chertoff to emphasize the importance of the legally-mandated consultation.
“The consultation process was not intended as a hollow requirement, but as an essential element in the Department's efforts to implement a sound border policy,” said Rodriguez. “The input from these stake holders who live and work in the border region can serve as a valuable and necessary asset in achieving the ultimate goal of border security.”

In the letter, Rodriguez referred to the “open house” meetings held in border communities as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. He said that while opportunities for public input on environmental issues associated with the proposed fence are crucial, there are other concerns that must also be addressed under the consultation mandate.

“As stated in P.L. 110-161, in addition to environmental concern, the consultations should involve discussions of efforts to minimize the impact of fencing on the culture, commerce, and quality of life of the affected communities,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said he is interested in the manner by which DHS will implement the remainder of the consultation requirements. He requested a list of the dates and locations of past public meetings and meetings previously held with local officials regarding new border fencing and infrastructure. The congressman also asked for a schedule of planned consultation meetings.

Rodriguez asked Chertoff to provide this information no later than Feb. 08. Angela Barranco, Rodriguez's press officer, said that several TBC members will visit with their respective congressional leaders in Washington D.C. on Thursday, and that Rodriguez's letter will be a topic of discussion in the meetings.
Border leaders had concerns regarding DHS's willingness to comply with consultation requests by local communities. In early January, DHS sent a letter to the Texas Border Coalition stating that the department would not suspend work on the construction of the fence to hold additional consultation meetings. Chad Foster, chairman of the coalition, responded DHS with a letter requesting for more consultation for the local communities.

Tensions also ran high among border leaders when the federal government filed a lawsuit against the City of Eagle Pass for access to city-owned land. The hearing was held without city representation, and the ruling granted the government access to more than 200 acres for land surveys to determine if border fence construction was feasible.

Del Rio Mayor and TBC member Efrain Valdez said that he hopes his federal elected officials will put some pressure on Chertoff to comply with the consultation mandate, but that he is skeptical of the secretary's intentions.

“Sometimes he appears to be interested, and sometimes he doesn't. When the border mayors have met with him he seems to be sensitive to our needs and to what would work here. Then all of a sudden, he turns around and does the opposite of what he's telling us,” said Valdez.

Valdez also said that the border mayors are not against border security, but that they need to provide input on the border fence construction because they know what works and what doesn't in their communities.

“Here in Del Rio, a fence at the port of entry would work because we are just about one mile from the city limits and need something to funnel in the traffic and pedestrian traffic,” said Valdez. “But in Eagle Pass and Laredo, the fence won't work because it cuts through their downtown areas. What Ciro is saying is to listen to the different communities because they know what works and what doesn't.

“I hope Chertoff listens to Congressman Rodriguez's letter because he does represent the biggest area that borders Mexico and he has a lot of good input to provide,” said Valdez.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

If Rio Grande could speak, it would say, 'No wall'
By Adrienne Evans

At the Environmental Assessment open house in Marfa last week, in a room of 150 people, including citizens, Border Patrol, Texas Rangers, Marfa Police, DPS, Homeland Security and government subcontractors, I asked Loren Flossman, program manager for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Secure Border Initiative Tactical Infrastructure, this question: "Do you love Big Bend?"

He didn't understand me, and I had to repeat the question twice. The room became deathly quiet. His answer: "I don't know if I love it or not."

I nodded, and then asked: "Have you ever visited Big Bend National Park?"
"No, I haven't."

Then: "Will you promise to visit the park very soon?"

Flossman: "I may or may not do that."

Reading here about the possibility that the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo may someday soon be walled off along its entire length will take most people in the Big Bend by surprise.

When this news sinks in, it will just about entirely persuade most Texans to see the issue of a border wall in a different light. If the current political climate continues and the wall is erected, the wise politician that tears it down will probably receive the Nobel Prize for doing so.
Yet why should the wall go up in the first place? I personally have chosen to speak up about this, and to encourage others to do so. Will speaking up work? Dunno, but the alternative, giving up, won't let me sleep at night.

If you listen to late-night talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs or Fox News, you know there are many that demand walling up the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

Rep. Ciro Rodriguez recently came and visited with some local elected officials, and emphasized that they should expect more sections of the wall to be added very soon in Big Bend, in addition to the portions that have recently been announced the government will build here this year. He also said that he hasn't heard much at all from his constituents on their opinions on the wall, but asked that they contact him so he would know their particular stances.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006, now in effect, has technically authorized a physical border wall along the entire U.S. border, though only a portion of the wall was funded in December 2007, including 10 1/2 miles in Big Bend.

The Secure Fence Act directs the Secretary of Homeland Security "to take appropriate actions to achieve operational control over U.S. international land and maritime borders, including: (1) systematic border surveillance through more effective use of personnel and technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and cameras; and (2) physical infrastructure enhancements to prevent unlawful border entry and facilitate border access by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, such as additional checkpoints, all weather access roads, and vehicle barriers." (Copied from the summary of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 from the Library of Congress online.)

I'm not a lawyer, but the way I read this, the Rio Grande is in jeopardy. I hope I'm wrong. Since I read the Secure Fence Act the other day, I haven't stopped telling people about it.

The reason I regularly refer to the river being at risk, and not so much the other aspects of my anti-border wall stance, is that I believe when one talks about the river, people's brains don't click off, the way they tend to do when you talk politics.

Of course I realize the issue is much bigger than the river. But simplifying it down to the river works best for me, to maintain my sanity in the midst of this crazy plan the government has come up with, and even made into law, of authorizing a wall along the entire border of the U.S., including the beaches! Even along the river's length sounds just plain crazy.

Everyone here is connected to the river, even more so if they've actually been next to it, dipped their toes in it, fished in it or floated down it, a connection especially strong here in Big Bend.
The river has its own magic, and it works on everyone. Everyone of all ages, from any place on Earth, gets a relaxed look that is unmistakable after floating the river on an overnight river trip.
Walling all of the rest of Rio Grande, except for the wild, scenic parts, is not a solution either. That would create serious problems that have never before existed in Big Bend.

Therefore, to me, it is not acceptable to wall the Rio Grande at all. Walling up all of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California is definitely not an answer either, because it funnels drugs and border-crossers to the beaches or to low-flying airplanes. Walling off Canada is equally unworkable.

When you say the words "illegal immigration" or "drug smuggling" or even "homeland," "security" and "sovereignty," words often connected with a border wall, a type of thought is engaged that is different than the type that occurs when one simply considers raw, wild nature and acknowledges its preciousness and great value to us and our children.

The river also has great intrinsic value that has nothing to do with humans. It was here for hundreds of millions of years before we were.

Our river isn't a political toy; it has forged a personal relationship with each one of us here in the Big Bend, and with millions of people beyond Big Bend who have visited here. I believe it even calls to those who I have heard say, "I've never been to Big Bend, but I've always meant to go."
Have you read, "Border Healing Woman" by Jewel Babb? Its setting is Indian Hot Springs, one of the most healing places on the planet. I personally received a healing there while I was battling a life-threatening illness. They now tell us that this spring will be less than four miles from the wall to be built this year at Neely's Crossing near Sierra Blanca.

The wall is also going up this year in an exquisitely beautiful place along miles of the Rio Bravo wilderness on either side of Presidio. Have you run the river in a boat on that stretch above and below Presidio? Have you talked with those who have fished there, who walk their dogs there, who herd their livestock down to the river? Have you talked with anyone in the last few decades who lives next to the river in Presidio County, whose soul is enriched by the sight and sound of the Rio Bravo next to their home?

I've recently witnessed a strange phenomenon. Pro-wall folks who also happen to love Big Bend grow silent, calm and thoughtful when I ask them how they feel about the beautiful Rio Grande, and the possibility of it being walled off completely.

No one in Texas has had time to process the news that we may now lose the Rio Bravo along its entire length.

Our government barreling ahead to "seal the border" with a physical barrier along the entire length of the Rio Bravo is such folly, as to be completely unbelievable! But to those who know nothing about the Big Bend or the Rio Grande, or even Texas, perhaps they believe it's going to work.

It's clear to us and most Texans that the Rio Grande needs to remain free. But we need to share photographs and video of the Rio Bravo with those who don't know its beauty and rawness. Let's not use scare tactics. That's what the fear-mongers do, and that's the kind of propaganda that must now stop, if we are to emerge from this dark period of Texas history in the making.
First, let's fight the wall by telephoning and writing letters and e-mails to our congressmen, our senators, the speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader, the secretary of Homeland Security and the president. Let's ask our local governments to pass resolutions against the wall.
Also, we have until February 5 to submit our comments on how the wall will affect the environment at the government's website, in the following ways:

By e-mail to:

By mail to: Marfa Sector Tactical Infrastructure EA, c/o e2M, 2751 Prosperity Avenue, Suite 200, Fairfax, VA 22031

By fax to: 757-299-8444

The reality of the pristine river wilderness is all around us as we float down the Rio Bravo. Most of in Big Bend can close our eyes now and remember being there. Along with our cherished neighbors in Mexico, we are intertwined with our beautiful frontera and no wall can ever disconnect us.

Let's find out all we can about the wall, and let's ask our friends to help stop the wall. Let's tell them what we know about what's coming. Let's hear what they have to say.

Adrienne Evans is a guest columnist. She is a licensed acupuncturist, search and rescue dog handler, and co-founder of the No Wall - Big Bend coalition. She and her partner, river guide and songwriter Butch Hancock, have lived in Terlingua with their three children for 10 years.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Protesters heatedly oppose planned border wall

By Cindy Perry

Fiery comments and impassioned pleas ranged from "This is a wakeup call for property owners" to "This can be undone" to "The carpetbaggers are back, but this time they've got shovels." And from "We don't want to be divided" to "This is an assault on private property rights," and from "This Wall of Death will cost billions" and "It's a racist wall ... it's not humane ... we don't want no wall!"

A handful of speakers, drawn from among 150 or more protesters gathered Wednesday evening outside Marfa's Hotel Paisano, hammered home the point they want to make to the federal government -specifically, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
And that point is: Residents in the Big Bend area don't want any border wall/fence between Texas and Mexico. Many of the speakers emphasized their close ties with neighbors, friends and relatives who live on the other side of the Rio Grande. Others voiced concern about a wall's impact on the river, crops, livestock and wildlife.

The demonstration preceded an open house inside the Paisano held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the draft environmental assessment for 11 miles of walls proposed for sites in Presidio and Hudspeth counties.

Among the protesters were Bill Guerra Addington of Sierra Blanca, who - with the Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund and other partners - successfully defeated a plan to put a nuclear waste disposal facility on a ranch near the small Hudspeth County town.

In an impassioned but brief talk, Addington told the crowd, "We're not going to allow the government to take our land. ... This can be undone as was the Sierra Blanca nuclear waste dump. We can stop it!"

More than one demonstrator likened the proposed border barrier to the Berlin Wall.
Another protester said, "First thing, get angry and turn that into positive action. Go to your friends and neighbors, but you can't stop there. Start writing letters to your elected officials to cut off funding - that's all that this is about. It's money!"

And yet another warned, "Homeland Security doesn't know what it's in for."
Robert Halpern, publisher of the Big Bend Sentinel, said, "We've lived here all our lives, and we're aghast at what the government is trying to do," calling it a "fear-mongering" government that sees enemies of the state across the border, "but the rest of us see friends, family, a beautiful culture." Halpern challenged local governments in the Big Bend to oppose the wall, adding, "We can beat this thing."

It wasn't just Big Bend residents speaking out. People from Del Rio, El Paso, San Antonio - among other towns and cities - came to rally with their fellow border residents. There were representatives of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in the Rio Grande Valley and of Southwest Workers Union in San Antonio.

The demonstration took on the air of an anti-Vietnam War protest when Chavel Lopez of Southwest Workers Union asked the crowd, "What do we want?" The group responded, "Justice!" Lopez asked, "When do we want it?" The resounding yell came back, "Now!"
At the open house, protesters and others packed a room to hear Loren Flossman, program manger for what is called the Marfa Tactical Infrastructure. Flossman stated that he and others from the Border Patrol were there "to listen to your comments." But a couple of people responded, "This is not a public hearing by law."

One man asked, "Has a decision been made to build the wall?" Flossman responded, "This isn't about a wall or no wall; the purpose of tonight's meeting is to determine have we identified all the impacts for where this wall [will go]. ... The draft EA [environmental assessment] is to look along the 11 miles of border."

Flossman later added, "We have a federal mandate to [protect] the border and that's what we're here to do."

A number of attendees asked how the proposed wall would affect archeological sites, toxic waste in soil, plants, animals, wildlife and McDonald Observatory - the latter because the planned wall would be heavily lighted.

One woman asked Flossman, "Will you [develop] water holes for animals that will no longer have access to river water?"

"We will work with [Texas] Parks & Wildlife [Department] on that," he responded.

She retorted, "I don't have much faith in TP&W because - how many wild burros did they shoot," a reference to the recent slaughter of at least 70 feral burros at Big Bend Ranch State Park by two TP&W officials.

Flossman emphasized the need to secure America's borders, but one man asked whether a wall was going to go up all around the country, adding, "It's better to spend the money on enforcing the laws rather than building a wall."

At the end of the open house, Flossman was asked whether he loved the Big Bend, because those protesting the wall do love the region. After pausing a couple of beats, he admitted this was his first time to visit the area.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

For Midland's news video of rally, see , click on "News" on> left, and scroll down to "Featured Videos" halfway down, and click on Border Wall Meeting in Marfa (1-23-08) 10p.m. for Marfa Press Conference coverage, January 23, 2008.


Photos below taken outside Paisano Hotel, Marfa, Texas, prior to the DHS Open House on that same afternoon.