The Chamber of Commerce and the Border Fence: Bad for Business?

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The immigration debate often disintegrates into stereotypes. Illegal immigrants sneaking across the border are video wallpaper on the Lou Dobbs show. Militant immigrant protesters are shown on the evening news. Truth is, up close, the border fence and the people and issues involved are far more complex. Local businessmen and farmers are more than conflicted. And hardboiled Anglos in law enforcement grimace at the toll in human lives. In this first of an online series of releases on the border issue and immigration, The Texas Observer takes a look at life near where "the fence" is rising.

The immigration debate often disintegrates into stereotypes. Illegal immigrants sneaking across the border are video wallpaper on the Lou Dobbs show. Militant immigrant protesters are shown on the evening news. Truth is, up close, the border fence and the people and issues involved are far more complex. Local businessmen and farmers are more than conflicted. And hardboiled Anglos in law enforcement grimace at the toll in human lives. In this first of an online series of releases on the border issue and immigration, The Texas Observer takes a look at life near where "the fence" is rising.

A Rio Grande fence will separate families, wreck economies, and threaten wildlife, but it won't stop illegal immigrants, a recent article in The Texas Observer states.

Here is a sample of the article.

Habitat for Inanity
Mary Jo McConahay

On hot summer days I would sit atop the water tank on the west side of the stone cabin ... watching turkey vultures climb invisible thermals, listening to the soft cooing of white-tipped doves, and gazing at the mosaic of greens that rippled into the distance. Something told me that I should swallow every angstrom of this beauty, commit it to memory, and hold it firmly in my heart.

Arturo Longoria, Adios to the Brushlands

Exhausted, a party of birders slips down the last few feet of a dry arroyo and collapses onto flat, cool stones near the spot where the water begins. Three sleek kayaks and a lumbering canoe sit beached just beyond reach of the licks of a lazy stream, near the tiny town of Salimeño. "We could secede again," says one of the birders in a tone that sounds only half-joking. He doesn't need to explain, because all present know the history of the short-lived, combative Republic of the Rio Grande (1839 to 1840). On the floor of the limestone arroyo, giant, fossilized oyster shells shine bright and curvy-edged in the sun. When a song comes from the brush, one of the birders automatically identifies it as "green jay," and the others assent without missing a beat in a conversation threaded with anger and frustration.

Up and down the Lower Rio Grande Valley, rebellion is in the air. Residents like the birders, and civic officials, are receiving top-down orders from Washington to accept a border fence many do not want, walling off their river. It will reverse new economic ebullience, opponents say, change their border culture, and bring down the curtain on rare critters of which they are stewards, including some found nowhere else in the world.

In Washington, anti-terror legislation is invoked to convince locals they have no choice.

(Continued at: http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2576 )

Other stories and opinion on the border wall and other immigration issues from The Texas Observer

Editorial: Get Off the Fence
http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2578

Border Seen
Impoverished children in San Benito chronicle their lives through photographs
http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2553

If We Build It, Will They Come?
West Texas residents fight to halt the proposed La Entrada al Pacifico
http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2553

A Lesson In Equal Protection
The Texas cases that opened the schoolhouse door to undocumented immigrant children
http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2548

Wanted But Not Welcome
3 books bring different interpretations to the nation's struggle with immigration
http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2459

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Julia Austin
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