Anger has been growing for months in southern Texas over plans to build a wall along the US side of the border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants. The city of Brownsville, which has a largely Hispanic-American population, has been a center of opposition by residents, who cite both environmental impacts and their own centuries-old ties with the Mexicans on the other side of the border.
Tempers flared even higher last week, after Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), an anti-immigration Republican who has been a major proponent of the border fence, told residents at a congressional hearing in Brownsville, “If you don’t want a fence between the city and Mexico, I suggest then you build the fence around the northern part of your city.”
Tancredo’s remark was met by boos and hisses, and Brownsville Major Pat Ahumada denounced it as an insult to his city. “You have people like the congressman there who are bigots,” he told CNN. “It’s a racist thing to them. They’re afraid of us Mexicans taking over politically, I think.”
However, Tancredo has refused to apologize and continues to insist, “Loyalties are actually at stake here. … It’s a question of who you’re loyal to, what country you’re loyal to. In that case, multiculturalism becomes a danger to a nation like the United States.”
Construction of the 18-foot wall is scheduled to begin in just a few weeks and residents say they have still not been told exactly where it will run. To save money, the wall will not follow the winding river but will be built along levees in places, leaving many acres of US territory on the other side. Even parts of two colleges campuses in Brownsville will be cut off.
Diana Lucia, owner of a golf course that is expected to be left stranded on the Mexican side, told CNN, “I don’t understand why they’re trying to keep this so hush-hush. Frankly, I think that they’re trying to shove this down our throat. … We are United States citizens and don’t appreciate being treated in this manner.”
This video is from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast May 5, 2008.