This month, state media have reported on a dispute between the University of Texas at Brownsville and the Department of Homeland Security over the proposed border fence that would bisect the UT-Brownsville campus.
The dispute is endemic of the petty, foolish and downright lazy approach the federal government has taken to border security at large. Besides the absolute stupidity of building a wall through the middle of a college campus - a college whose self-avowed mission is to bridge the gap between the two countries - Homeland Security requested an 18-month free pass to work on the UT-Brownsville campus and a wavier for responsibility of any damages incurred. Unscrupulous to the extreme, this example of small-mindedness is only another piece of the systematic disregard for true understanding of border security.
As reported by The Texas Observer, a lifelong U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worker was bullied out of his job when he refused an order to approve a surveying request that endangered a 180,000-acre tract of wildlife refuge along the border, even though he did so in pursuit of standing federal law. The federal government had previously shelled out $80 million to restore the land, now home to 1,000 species of rare native fauna. The Federales are now strong-arming into places like the 115 wildlife refuges on the border to push the hallmark of the Bush administration's flimsy border security plan, the $49 billion border fence initiative.
It's a plan of such utterly shallow thinking that the federal bullying and wholesale surrender to the security industry that has gone along with it should be a complete shock to the conscience. It is a wonder that a plan as jokingly half-assed as putting up a wall to keep out criminals, terrorists and drug-runners while in reality keeping out people who wish to contribute to the economy and improve their families' lives isn't simply ignored, or at least pursued only superficially.
To the contrary, this has become an issue of such purely symbolic importance that it has morphed into the vanguard issue of the otherwise impotent border hawks in Congress and the White House. The border fence not only creates new drains on taxpayer coffers and negates millions of dollars of existing federal investments in environmental protection, but it also tears apart the social and economic fabric of border communities, much to the chagrin of border-dwellers and their representatives in government. At a meeting on the issue in April, arch-border warrior Rep. Tom Tancredo witlessly quipped that if the residents of Brownsville were so staunchly opposed to the fence, perhaps it should simply be built north of Brownsville, the Observer reported. Such sentiments likely speak to the truer ambitions of the border hawks, especially those from middle America.