Presidio Mayor John Ferguson offered the following in response to President Trump’s insistence on building a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico:
“President Trump’s executive order to construct a wall along our nation’s southern border is a short-sighted political move that will not stop illegal immigration, nor will it do the hard work of alleviating the causes of why people choose to make a dangerous trek to be in our country in the first place. Illegal immigration has been a part of the daily existence for those of us who reside on the border for quite some time. In the Texas Big Bend and in the deserts of northern Mexico, the choice to make the journey northward has often been tempered by unforgiving heat, mountainous terrain, and an extreme lack of water. Yet, many still choose to try and make it, but this portion of the border generally discourages large-scale movement of undocumented immigrants.
Many Texas state elected officials also oppose building a border wall in the Texas Big Bend. The Rio Grande’s course through this region was determined by geology, ultimately causing a south-flowing river to abruptly turn northward, then, eventually again back to the south. To consider constructing an unbroken barrier through the Big Bend, along the Rio Grande would be impossible because of the region’s naturally-occurring obstacles. In addition, the river is fed by many arroyos (creeks) that would require gaps in the wall structure to allow floodwater and debris to flow freely into the river after flash floods.
Then, of course, consider the blight on the landscape a border wall would cause in Texas’ last frontier: The Big Bend. Farm to Market (FM) 170 in Presidio is considered one of America’s great scenic river and desert drives. Lajitas Resort is built with the river and a breathtaking mountain backdrop as its essence. Santa Elena Canyon and Boquillas Canyon, both in Big Bend National Park, show us the magnificent work of nature, and also how these landmarks are shared by two nations. Just a few years ago, the crossing to Boquillas del Carmen re-opened and is a safe, enjoyable part of any visit to Big Bend.
The story behind the story here is that the border wall does nothing to address why illegal immigration is occurring. Working on that problem is much more complex and seemingly of no interest to the present commander-in-chief.
Finally, the border is simply an imaginary line that separates two nations. In Presidio’s case, the border lies in the middle of the channel of the Rio Grande. On the other side are many relatives and friends of ours who live in Ojinaga, Mexico. The river merely runs through the middle of our two communities; it brings us together.
I look forward to the day when the U.S. and Mexico can again celebrate what we have in common, as well as our differences. China built a wall to keep out invaders. The Berlin Wall was built to imprison those who lived inside it. The U.S. border wall is envisioned to keep out those whom we for years have lured here—for our enjoyment of cheap labor, and their chance to have a second chance.”