A recording of today’s call is available here
As Trump prepares to pitch his hardline, nativist immigration proposals at the State of the Union – including his border wall – communities across the southern border are standing firm against policies that would protect Dreamers while hurting people, commerce and the environment.
Experts, elected officials and Border Dreamers discussed how a border wall will affect the 15 million people who call the borderlands home, and why the border wall is hurtful, unjustified and not based on reality. A recording of today’s call is available here.
Christian Ramirez, Director of the Southern Borders Communities Coalition, said:
The border wall discussion comes down to whether or not we need it, and how it would affect our communities. We must do what good decision makers do. Building more walls has not been justified and would be a monumental waste of dollars.
Representative Scott Peters, Democrat, California’s 52nd District, said:
In San Diego, we view the southern border as an opportunity, not a threat. San Diego’s economy depends on cross-border trade to be a driver of economic growth in our region. From firsthand experience, we know that a wall is a wasteful, misguided investment. Instead, Congress should be focusing on modernizing our border crossings and deploying state-of-the-art technologies that make legitimate commerce more efficient and do a better job of keeping us safe. San Diego has already established itself as one of the safest cities across the country. In a recent visit to the border, our local Border Patrol made clear to me that the acquisition and utilization of tunnel detection technologies is among their top priorities for assisting their efforts to combat drug and weapon smuggling and human trafficking. These are the type of investments we need at the border, not a wall.
Representative Filemon Vela, Democrat, Texas 34th District, was unable to join the call but released the following statement:
A physical wall is a wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars. It endangers wildlife, stomps on property rights of private landowners, and isolates our partner, Mexico. I am bewildered by the oversight of the negative impact that a border wall has on the 15 million people who call the southern border region their home. The apparent acceptance of the border wall and disregard of the impact on border communities demonstrates a fundamental lack of thought, logic, and empathy. I am committed to protecting my constituents, which includes thousands of Border Dreamers. I am positive that we can protect Dreamers and border residents without sacrificing border communities and safety to satisfy an irrational demand for the construction of a border wall.
Jason Wells, Executive Director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce, said:
Being the world‘s busiest land border crossing, San Ysidro is the focal point of binational sharing of cultures, traditions and experiences between the United States of America and Mexico. A physical wall, while doing nothing to enhance security, is a slap in the face to this beautiful relationship that makes both of our countries better than they would be separately. The San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce denounces the rhetoric of “the wall,” and would fully support a slight increase in funding for virtual walls (technology) between ports of entry, and a much greater investment IN the communities that surround our port of entries… those that make our hemisphere great.
Jim Chapman, Lower Rio Grande Valley, Sierra Club, said:
There are nearly one hundred wildlife refuge tracts along the river in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is the oldest, one of the largest (2088 acres) and the most visited of these wildlife refuges. Since 1979 the Dept. of Interior has been working to create a corridor of forested habitat along the last 275 miles of the Rio Grande, an area of tremendous plant and animal diversity, including 19 endangered, threatened and protected species. The border wall will adversely impact all these refuge areas, some by cutting them in half, some by blocking access to the forest and water by the river, and all of them by the associated clearing, lighting and traffic The worst single impact for Santa Ana will occur when there is a flood, which happens on average every ten years. Then the entire refuge is flooded and remains flooded for several months. With an 18-foot concrete wall no terrestrial animal life will be able to escape the flood. All will perish. Noah’s Flood lasted 40 days. Santa Ana’s will last much longer. But there will be no Ark.
Greisa Martinez, Director of Advocacy and Policy at United We Dream, said:
Trump is selling a plan tonight at his State of the Union speech that would devastate families. Trump says that he will give citizenship to immigrant youth only if the country agrees to his white supremacist demands. And if we don’t accept – he will deport us all. It is a Sophie’s Choice by a man whose racist goal is to force millions of people of color underground, into jails and out of the country.
Most Reverend Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso, TX, said:
We in the church believe the nation does have the right to control its border. But the border is a place of transition. It is a place to meet. Real solutions should deal with real people. It should not be a political bargaining point for children who were brought here. A vast majority of Americans support Dreamers. Walls provide more risk for people who are moving across borders because of the associated dangers and isolation. A vast majority of people are not crossing to better their economic situation but rather because their lives are threatened; their children’s lives are threatened. What’s happening in Central America right now? How can we help to resolve the terrible cause of narco trafficking and corrupt governments? A wall is built on a false narrative that when people build policies on false notions of violence and insecurity. Let’s take another look at what a border ought to be.
About Southern Border Communities Coalition
The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.