Tag Archives: Rio Grande Valley

Wall between Texas and Mexico: daunting task, indeed

Donald J. Trump presumably counted on unanimous support from Texas’s Republican congressional delegation to build The Wall separating the state from Mexico.

He didn’t get it. Imagine that, will ya?

GOP Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior U.S. senator, hedged significantly on whether he wants to spend $5.7 billion to build The Wall along our southern border. He met with the president today in McAllen, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Patrick wants The Wall erected so badly that he reportedly — according to Trump — offered to have the state pay for its construction.

Cornyn, though, says the state’s 1,200-mile border with Mexico is quite geographically diverse. He is not sure about how much he wants to spend, but it appears that he isn’t on board with the $5.7 billion the president wants.

Consider, too, that the entire length of the Texas-Mexico border runs along the Rio Grande River, which presents an entirely different set of circumstances confronting other border states. New Mexico, Arizona and California are bordered along land with Mexico; the Texas border meanders a bit, much of it through some very rough, and scenic territory. We also have that big ol’ national park at Big Bend with which to deal.

Oh, and then we have that thing called “eminent domain,” given that almost all the land along our border is held privately. The government cannot seize that land without offering “just compensation,” as it is spelled out in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s going to get really expensive to build it.

So, how much support does The Wall have? Politico talked to 17 House members and senators who represent states and House districts along the border. Just two of them — Cruz and fellow Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona — said they support The Wall.

Trump boasts about GOP solidarity. Yep, the party sounds pretty solid, all right, but not in the way the president keeps saying.

Texas landowners may block wall construction

This is funny … almost.

I’m not laughing. However, the irony is too rich to ignore. As the New York Times is reporting, those closest to the nation’s southern border seem to be mounting the sternest challenge to efforts to build that big ol’ wall between the United States and Mexico.

They’re supposed to be terrified of the “flood of illegal immigrants,” right? Not exactly.

Texas appears to be at ground zero of the battle between private landowners and the federal government that seeks to build that wall.

Texas’s vast expanse of real estate is almost exclusively in private hands. Citizens own the land and they are none too willing to surrender it, no matter what the Department of Homeland Security might have to say.

Lawsuits have been filed

According to the Times, landowners have filed dozens of lawsuits against the government that wants to condemn their land to make way for the wall. Some property owners are hoping to tie this matter up so tightly that they’ll outlast the Donald J. Trump administration.

Texans have proven over many years to be not bashful at all about fighting tooth and nail to protect their land from government seizure. That well could be the fight that the president faces as he maneuvers efforts to construct the wall that he and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly say can be finished in 24 months.

Texas and Mexico share 1,254 miles of border. Most of the land on the Texas side of the Rio Grande River is privately held. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the government to pay “just compensation” for property it takes from citizens.

And, yes, there happens to be a lot of land west of El Paso — through New Mexico, Arizona and California — that the feds will have to take from private ownership. It won’t come cheaply.

I understand completely that the Rio Grande Valley region needs careful attention from border security officials. According to the Times: “The Rio Grande Valley is among the busiest smuggling routes on the Mexican border. Last year, Border Patrol agents seized 326,393 pounds of marijuana, second only to the agency’s Tucson sector. It also seized about 1,460 pounds of cocaine, the most of any sector. Nearly 187,000 illegal border crossers were apprehended here in 2016, the most of any Border Patrol sector.”

I see the need for greater security.

But seizing the land and building a wall? This fight is just beginning.

Oh, we can forget about Mexico paying for the wall — if it ever gets built!

Good job, Border Patrol

DEL RIO, Texas — The U.S. Border Patrol is on the job.

We are glad to report that they stopped our vehicle as we made our way home.

The first stop occurred on U.S. Highway 83 just north of Laredo. We pulled up to the station, were greeted by an officer. He asked, “Are you citizens?” Yes, we said. “Him, too?” the officer asked with a broad smile, referring to Toby the Puppy. Oh, yes. “Thank you for y our service,” he told me, noticing my Army ballcap. I should have thanked him for his service as a Border Patrol officer. The young man has a tough job.

We proceeded on our way.

We turned west at Carrizo Springs on U.S. 277, then headed north out of Del Rio.

That’s when we got to the second stop. We pulled over.

The officer approached our rig. “How you doing? Do you have a long ride home?” he asked. Yes. I told him we were en route to Amarillo. He told us to travel safely. Off we went.

The fellow in the vehicle ahead of us wasn’t quite so fortunate. The officers pulled him over. We didn’t stay long enough to see what they were asking him, although — and please forgive the profiling here — he did look to be of Hispanic descent.

My wife and I have some experience going through what the president would call “extreme vetting.” It occurred at David Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. You haven’t lived until you’ve been given the third, fourth and fifth degree from an Israeli airport security agent. They give all outbound passengers a thorough going-over as they ask you the same set of questions many times … looking to get a rise out of you, looking for signs of irritation, seeking a possible flaw in the answers you give.

OK, we didn’t get that kind of treatment as we coursed our way from the Rio Grande Valley.

We also are acutely aware of the extra attention being paid along our southern border, particularly since the election of the president. In truth, though, our nation’s border cops have been doing a difficult job for as long as we’ve shared lengthy borders — on both sides of this massive nation.

We have been given a brief glimpse of the job they do and the alert level they must maintain. I know they don’t catch all of those who seek to sneak into the country illegally. But we’ve got about 5,000 miles of border — north and south — to protect.

Thank you, folks, for your service.

Trump succeeds with idiotic idea

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Donald Trump’s signature issue in his quest to become president of the United States?

I guess it’s immigration.

What is his idea? Round up all 11 million — maybe it’s more — individuals who are here illegally, send them back to their native country. But, he says, do it “humanely.”

OK. How do we do that?

Well, he wants to hire about 25,000 additional federal employees — let’s call ’em immigrant wranglers. He’d deploy them across the country to hunt down those who are here without proper documentation. They’d take the immigrants into custody, I reckon, process them and then send them back to their country of origin.

Someone has to start taking Trump seriously to task for continuing to promote an idea that is looking more and more like utter insanity.

Has anyone figured out the cost of an operation that Trump is proposing? And what in the world does this mean to those who want a smaller federal workforce? Trump is proposing growing the federal payroll by at least 25,000 individuals. And does he consider this to be a one-time operation, that them immigrant wranglers will round up the undocumented immigrants one time, call it good and then move on to other jobs?

Not all GOP candidates have endorsed Trump’s nuttiness. “We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them … back across the border,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich said. “It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument. It makes no sense.”

Oh, I almost forgot. Trump is going to build a “beautiful wall” stretching from the mouth of the Rio Grande River in South Texas all the way to the Pacific Ocean, just south of San Diego, Calif. That’ll keep the illegal immigrants out. Job finished.

Hillary Rodham Clinton said this about the Trump Plan: “The idea of tracking down and deporting 11 million people is absurd, inhumane, and un-American. No, Trump.”

Let’s add “insane” and “idiotic.”

This is the leading Republican presidential candidate’s formula for “making America great again”?

Drought broken in South Texas?

You meet the most interesting people at RV parks.

We made an acquaintance the other evening. An elderly couple is traveling toward Calgary, Alberta to attend the Calgary Stampede. They were parked a few yards from us at an RV park in Dodge City, Kan. I noticed the Texas license plate on their fifth wheel.

“Where in Texas are you from?” I asked. He said he lives in McAllen.

We chatted a little bit. Then he told me the “drought is broken” in South Texas.

“Wow!” I thought. That was news to me.

He said they got about 7 inches of rain in a single day. The Rio Grande River is flowing nicely, he said.

I mentioned to him that we’ve nearly achieved our annual precipitation total so far — and the year isn’t quite halfway done.

Their drought is broken? But not ours?

I’m not going to challenge the gentleman’s assertion directly. Heck, for all I know the National Weather Service’s drought declarations for South Texas haven’t been as severe as they’ve been for much of the rest of the state.

But the drought surely is far from broken way up yonder, in the Texas Panhandle or all along the High Plains.

I will say this, however, about what we saw on our four-day excursion to Dodge City: The range land is remarkably green and lush. We didn’t see many playas on our travel north of Amarillo, through the Oklahoma Panhandle and into western Kansas.

But the ground looked gorgeous.

Is our drought broken? Hardly.

I hope our acquaintance from McAllen is correct about the drought condition in his part of the state. I’m a bit skeptical, but only because the drought hung for so long and it might take a bit longer for it to be declared a thing of the past.

Meanwhile, we could use some more rain to keep our grassland so green.