By Kathy Staudt
With a new place and time schedule, the El Paso Social Justice Education Forum’s first Sunday afternoon bimonthly forum on June 4th showed eleven short videos about the Border Wall. We share these videos on this reflection-blog, and the 500+ ‘likers’ on our Facebook page and recipients of our 700+ email list.
As readers know, the Mexico-U.S. border is almost 2,000 miles long with 14 twin cities and towns where people interact on everyday bases in interdependent economies. Almost 800 miles of what the government calls ‘fencing’ has been in place, especially after the U.S. Congress passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The Rio Grande/Río Bravo is the dividing line for most of the Texas-Mexico border. The question to ponder and discuss: Just how much more fence/wall could be constructed, at what cost to border communities and to taxpayers?
Watch some of the following videos. Some show the ease of scaling the wall; others show wall construction options, their costs (short- and long-term), and the years necessary to complete the building process (after which costs would kick in for maintenance). Still other videos offer comic relief: The two videos of Conan O’Brien in Mexico City are hilarious! In one, he asks people on the street what they think of Trump’s claims that Mexico will pay; the other shows an interview with Mexico’s former President Vicente Fox who has been outspoken in his tweets and continuous criticism, using salty language.
An amazing group of about fifty people dialogued after the videos, contributing insightful comments and expertise about multiple issues that affect our borderlands. One issue involves the continued stall on immigration reform, deportation, and beginning in 2017, “deportation on steroids” in popular parlance. Other comments related to how politicians use ‘border security’ during elections and budget hearings to push a fearful (even hateful) population to support the hardening of borders. For example, the Texas Legislature allocates nearly a billion taxpayer dollars to augment the state Department of Public Safety for border security. In this session, SB4 passed on so-called Sanctuary Cities, but local counties and cities have filed lawsuits against measures that would use local law enforcement to step up federal immigration enforcement to avoid fines and jail. Several people offered suggestions on ways people might support nonprofits and refugees stuck in jail-like ‘detention facilities.’
All in all, we had productive discussions with good border people about the possibility and consequences of even more walls in our binational community. This reflection-blog is offered in the hopes that more of you who “like” us on Facebook and receive our emails will participate in future sessions! Please join us.