McALLEN, RGV – Today is a busy day for opponents of a border wall in the Rio Grande Valley as seven cities consider resolutions against one of President Trump’s top campaign issues.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club will be present at all seven meetings.
“We are asking RGV residents to show up at the meeting near you to cheer on city leaders as they take a stand against Trump’s hateful and destructive border wall,” said Stefanie Herweck, who serves on the executive committee of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club.
Hidalgo and Starr counties have already passed resolutions against the border wall. In a guest column in the Rio Grande Guardian, Herweck argues that Valley cities should follow suit.
“Doing so is really an act of self-preservation, and all border communities should raise their voices to show Congress and the nation that border residents reject border walls because of the terrible impacts they will have in our communities,” Herweck wrote.
“In addition to 32 miles of 20- to 30-foot tall bollard walls in Starr County, the Trump Administration wants to build 28 miles of levee-border wall in Hidalgo County. The plan is to fill in all the gaps between the levee-border walls that were built in 2009. This would make a continuous levee-border wall the new de facto southern boundary of Hidalgo County and wall off its entire length from the Rio Grande.”
Herweck said Valley tourism is hurt when a border wall goes up.
“When the levee-border wall was erected between the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse World Birding Center and the adjacent Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, CBP built a gate between the Pumphouse visitor center and the hiking trail, promising to open the gate during the Center’s hours of operation. But they have never open the gate. The trails that made the park a World Birding Center are cut off, and as a consequence the City of Hidalgo derives little benefit from Valley’s ecotourism economy,” Herweck wrote.
“With Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Anzalduas County Park, the historic La Lomita Chapel, the National Butterfly Center, and Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park all on the south side of the levee, Hidalgo communities must understand that the levee-border wall poses a serious threat to these attractions and may mean their closure.”
Herweck said the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club rejects the notion that levee-walls are okay because they help stop flooding.
“One oft-repeated sales pitch for building border walls into our flood-control levees is the false pretense that the levees are decrepit and need repair. In fact, Hidalgo’s levees are essentially brand new. Two hundred-twenty million dollars was spent to restore all of the Rio Grande Valley’s river-facing and floodway levees, and the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) has now certified them as meeting the criteria of the Federal Emergency Management Administration,” Herweck wrote.
“According to Sally Spener at USIBWC the only remaining flood control issue is drainage: how does water that falls north of the newly rebuilt levees get past them to the Rio Grande? The obvious answer is pumps. Turning a levee into a levee-border wall and topping it with steel bollards will do nothing to address this issue.”
Click here to read Herweck’s guest column on the border wall.