Laredo responds to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request for a border wall in the area


Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas explaining why he believed the area – made up of Webb and Zapata counties – was “affected disproportionately by the negative consequences of an open border”.

For this reason, Paxton demanded that a border wall be built in the Laredo area. CBP has nine areas of the Southwest land border in the United States. Among them, Laredo saw the smallest increase in fixtures over the prior year at 2.2%.

Subsequently, local reactions arose regarding the construction of the border wall and why it is needed or not, as the issue has arisen again in a city that has heard of the potential structure on numerous occasions.

The letter said there was a crime wave at the border as human and drug trafficking increased in the area and in Zapata County, although tax data indicates the city of Laredo is l one of the safest communities in the United States.

In response, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said the city continues to stick to its position of not wanting a border wall in the area.

“I am not surprised by Attorney General Paxton’s statement to insist on building a physical wall as the primary remedy for border security,” Saenz said. “However, the city’s longstanding position has been to implement a virtual wall approach to secure our part of the border.”

According to the mayor, the Biden administration, with the help of Ambassador Ken Salazar, recently proposed the binational river park or an alternative to the green belt for border security, which incorporates all the elements of a wall virtual and more.

“That is, clearing vegetation, creating lines of sight and accessibility, installing lighting and detection technologies, and more border patrol personnel; with more quality of life – holistic approach: improvement of water quality, restoration of ecology and environment, promotion of economic development and tourism,” the mayor added. “This proposed bi-national (river) park encompasses approximately 6.2 miles for a total of 1,000 acres on both sides of the border. This project will require more than $300 million to complete on the US side.

The mayor is not the only one to say that the border wall is not necessary for the region. Many locals argue that a wall is unnecessary and proposed by people unfamiliar with the situation.

“What credibility does Ken Paxton bring to this issue? He doesn’t live here or in Zapata,” said Tricia Cortez, executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center. “He doesn’t understand, or care to understand, our historic and deep connection to the river. Why is he pushing a Trump-era policy for our community when voters here have firmly rejected the border wall and strongly oppose the confiscation of 69 miles of public and private land along the river? Seizing land and building a wall is not the answer to migration.

Cortez also says that the fact that crime in Laredo is among the lowest in the country helps show how safe the border area is.

“What a short-sighted and negative way to look at us,” Cortez said. “Laredo ranks among the safest cities our size in the United States, based on FBI violent crime data. Instead, I would ask him to modernize our bridges and checkpoints, and invest in solutions that create both border security and water security.

Meanwhile, National Border Patrol Council #2455 Chairman Hector Garza remains firmly on the side of wanting to see a border wall in the area go ahead, backing Paxton’s position.

“It is clear and obvious that under the Biden administration, illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the US-Mexico border will continue,” Garza said. “We know that physical structures like a wall would work, and Border Patrol agents and the National Border Patrol Council support the construction of a wall in the Laredo area to not only protect the border community, but also the whole nation against illegal immigration. and drug trafficking”.

Garza said he hopes the Biden administration will “consider” the state attorney general’s letter and decide whether to proceed with construction of the physical structure as originally planned. He says the wall would help reduce the number of people crossing and also cause less stress on Border Patrol agents.

Garza says about 60% of officers are asked to process detainees instead of directly protecting the border. Garza also claims that less manpower at the border results in more young people from Laredo being recruited by criminal elements in Mexico into their drug and human trafficking schemes.

“Overall, death and human suffering will continue in the region if we don’t build a border wall,” Garza said.

Saenz said the binational river park and enhanced security in other areas will serve as the perfect virtual wall and establish security along the lines of the river. However, he agrees that he would like the federal government to do more to ensure that this is implemented as soon as possible.

“Locally, we anticipate federal funding to cover the bulk of the expenses for this project, the funds for which have yet to be identified,” Saenz said. “Personally speaking, and with all due respect, the Biden administration is moving too slowly in this border business, which only results in statements such as the Attorney General’s. All we ask as city ​​is that this project be allowed to proceed, so that once and for all the effectiveness of a virtual wall can be proven as a less expensive alternative, with all the added quality of life amenities.


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