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EDINBURG, RGV – It appears the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club and La Unión del Pueblo Entero have succeeded in their push to get Hidalgo County officials to change their stance on the border wall.

A draft letter that could be sent to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, from Hidalgo County Judge and Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 Chairman Ramon Garcia is due to be discussed next Tuesday.

Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia

Also on the agenda for the Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 meeting is a Resolution voicing strong opposition to a border wall.

Sierra Club RGV and LUPE have been among the most vocal opponents of a letter sent by the Drainage District to Kelly and McCaul last February. The letter basically said, if DHS is to build a border wall, fix Hidalgo County’s levees at the same time. The letter included levee/wall construction proposals drawn up Dannenbaum Engineering. Dannenbaum’s offices were raided by the FBI earlier this week.

According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, all the levees in Hidalgo County have been rehabilitated.

Here is the draft letter that could be sent to Kelly and McCaul:

May 2, 2017

Hon. Congressman Michael McCaul Chairman of Homeland Security Attn: John F. Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security Attn: Texas Delegation

RE: Clarification on the County of Hidalgo Texas position regarding a border wall

Hon. Congressman McCaul:

A letter sent on behalf of the Hidalgo County Drainage District Board of Directors, which I chair, on February 21, 2017, was not meant to be an endorsement of any sort of border barrier or Border Wall to be constructed along the Texas-Mexico border. At that time, the directors and I felt that if the federal government was going to build a barrier, then some good should come out of it, so we proposed shoring up our levees in lieu of a wall or fence.

Since then, the Board has heard from constituents who have urged us to take a stronger stance on the issue. Therefore, please accept this clarification to the February 21 letter:

• The Hidalgo County Drainage District #1 Board of Directors are adamantly against the construction of a barrier or border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border – including levee-border walls – and believes the logic behind the plan to be dangerously flawed and ill informed.

Most everyone who lives or works along the U.S. Mexico border understands that President Trump’s $21 billion wall will have little impact on illegal immigration while hurting our relationship with Mexico, which is Texas’ largest trading partner; taking away or breaking up privately owned land, much of which has been owned by families for generations; taking away access to the river for irrigated farmland, and drinking water for cattle and wildlife; and harming the habitat for migrating wildlife and endangered species.

Again, we want to make our position as the Hidalgo County Drainage District #1 Board of Directors perfectly clear that we are against any barrier or wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. We were pleased to learn that initial funding for the Border Wall was removed from the proposed budget. Since the Border Wall is now off the table, please consider reinstating funding for much-needed social service programs that benefit the poorest in our county, including U.S. veterans, the elderly, and working-poor families.

Sincerely,

Hon. Ramon Garcia Hidalgo County Judge and
Chairman of the Drainage District #1 Board of Directors

Cc:
Hon. Senator John Cornyn – of Texas (R); Hon. Senator Ted Cruz – of Texas (R);
Hon. Congressman Henry Cuellar – 28th District of Texas (D); Hon. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez – 15th District of Texas (D); Hon. Congressman Filemon Vela – 34th District of Texas (D); Hon. Speaker Paul Ryan – Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District (R); Hon. Chairman Kevin Brady – Texas’s 8th Congressional District (R) Hon. Greg Abbott – Governor of Texas (R); Hon. Dan Patrick – Lt. Governor of Texas (R);

Here is the Resolution in opposition to the construction of border walls in Hidalgo County, Texas:

WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of Hidalgo County residents adamantly oppose border walls; and

WHEREAS, the billions of dollars that have been requested for new border walls could be better spent on improved infrastructure, social service programs, and other needs in Hidalgo County; and

WHEREAS, proposed levee-border walls in Hidalgo County would run through Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, natural areas which are important for native wildlife and are the centerpieces of the Hidalgo County’s burgeoning ecotourism industry; and

WHEREAS, proposed levee-border walls in Hidalgo County would repeatedly cut through the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, fragmenting habitat that is critical to the continued survival of endangered ocelots in South Texas; and

WHEREAS, the location of the proposed border wall would cut off large swaths of land and divide privately-owned property, much of which has been owned by families for generations; and

WHEREAS, trade with our Mexican neighbors substantially contributes to the economy in Hidalgo County; and

WHEREAS, the communities in Hidalgo County consistently rank among the safest in the United States.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Hidalgo County Drainage District Board of Directors expresses its opposition to any border walls built in our County because they would not make us safer but would detract from the economic well-being of the County and from the quality of life of our residents.

Approved this 2nd day of May, 2017.

Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 will meet in the Commissioners Courtroom of the Administration Building, 100 E. Cano, 1st floor, Edinburg, on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. Click here to view the agenda for the meeting.

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