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The QueQue

The QueQue: Anti-Muslim hate on the rise in SA, Border Wall reanimating in Rio Grande floodplain

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

DON'T SPRAY IT. Writing on the wall outside Tahir Khan's home.


When the dust settled after 2008′s election, there were still more than a dozen miles left to go, rejected for their likelihood to shift floodwaters into Mexico. With Obama's victory many assumed the project was done — at least until the next presidential election. Efforts for another 700 miles of fencing under a second Secure Fence Act in 2008 and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint's "Finish the Fence" amendment of 2010, however, were both routed in Congress.

But now 14 miles of fence approved, purchased, and never built appear to be back on track for construction. And critics — including a Mexican engineer with the Mexican side of the bi-national International Boundary and Water Commission — say their proposed construction will funnel massive amounts of flood waters into Mexico, a clear violation of international treaty, putting lives at risk. This time significant portions of these three sections of wall — at Roma, Rio Grande City, and Los Ebanos — would be built in the Rio Grande's floodplain, representing "the potential for disaster to occur" by deflecting floodwaters into Mexican towns to the south, IBWC engineer Luis Antonio Rascon Mendoza wrote U.S. colleagues in late 2011. "The location, alignment and design of the proposed fence represent a clear obstruction of the Rio Grande hydraulic area, since … the fence would occupy nearly all of the hydraulic area on the U.S. side, causing the deflection of flows toward the Mexican side."

Scott Nicol, who has been tracking the developments for the Sierra Club's Borderlands Team, says the fence would also split significant amounts of floodwater toward the U.S. "They've already condemned the land, they just don't want the bad PR that goes along with throwing someone out of their house," he said. "You don't have to condemn the land, you can just wash it away."

When the sections were first stopped over flooding concerns in 2008, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar told the Houston Chronicle that the Valley "will receive this as great news," before adding: "We're hoping that this will allow us to work with the next president to find … alternative methods for security."

U.S. reps at the IBWC have disputed their counterparts' findings, but instead of allowing time for a full review and bi-national consensus, they've chosen to go it alone: voting to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to move forward despite Mexico's objections. "After an in-depth and thorough review, the USIBWC has concluded that the proposed fence project(s) will not cause significant deflection or obstruction of … flood flows of the Rio Grande," U.S. IBWC engineer John Merino wrote in February.

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