Friday, April 4, 2008

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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 TreviƱo, 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


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