Border wall protests planned in South Texas

MISSION, Texas — Hundreds may turn out in South Texas this weekend to push back against construction of President Trump’s proposed border wall.

Two demonstrations against the wall’s construction are planned in Hidalgo County near the Rio Grande, where residents and activists say the potential path of a wall would impact local landmarks and natural areas, including a wildlife refuge that includes among its inhabitants the endangered ocelot.

Critics are concerned about federal maps that show possible locations of a border wall constructed on existing levees.

The maps are preliminary and no decisions have been made, authorities have said.

But they have raised concerns among a broad spectrum of organizations and groups.

Saturday, in the city of Mission, activists are expected to gather at 7 a.m. at Our Lady of the Guadalupe Catholic Church for a prayer walk to La Lomita — the chapel that inspired the city’s name — ending on the chapel's grounds with a rally and picnic.

A border wall, as shown in preliminary federal documents, would leave the mission in a no-man’s land between the river and the wall, community organizations say.

Although dubbed an ecumenical procession, more than 50 organizations are listed as sponsors, ranging from churches and political parties to environmental advocates and civil rights groups.

The march is about more than La Lomita, according to organizers. On a Facebook page promoting the event, its description is broad. The walk is intended to bring attention to the feared fate of the chapel and also private property, delicate ecological habitats and social justice, and calls on leaders to “cease attacks on our community, repudiate the false narratives driving bad policy, and advocate on our behalf.”

The wall wouldn’t be effective in stemming immigration, asserts the posting, but it would “funnel (people) into remote areas where they are at risk of dying from dehydration and exposure.”

“Proposals such as new border walls would inflict real and lasting harm, and they demonstrate a fundamental ignorance of the reality of the border,” it states. “We will not stand for immigrants, people of color, those living in poverty, members of the LGTBQ community and others being targeted."

On Sunday, the focus of wall opponents will shift to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a 2,088-acre sanctuary along the Rio Grande considered by environmentalists as an important corridor to foster indigenous plants and animals.

Critics of constructing a border wall in the area have said a such a barrier would restrict the movements of animals, hurt birds sensitive to lights and drown animals on the southside of the wall in the event of a flood.

A hike through the refuge begins at 9 a.m.

Authorities have generally said there would be efforts to minimize any negative impacts, and access to properties would remain.

Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times


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