Wednesday, July 14, 2022
Contacts: Tricia Cortez | 956-319-4374 | firstname.lastname@example.org //
Melissa R. Cigarroa | 956-206-7590 | email@example.com
Laredo Coalition Responds to Historic Announcement: stands in solidarity with other disenfranchised border communities; calls for end to unconstitutional waiver of laws at the border
LAREDO, TX– No Border Wall Laredo Coalition members responded cautiously to the historic announcement by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week that terminates the new border wall planning process for Laredo and Zapata but moves those funds to other places along the border with existing wall.
Mayorkas’ decision effectively re-allocates all remaining $2.4 billion in border wall funding - including the $1 billion that was in play for Laredo - to areas with existing wall for remediation and to install updates. The $1 billion was issued by the Trump Administration to confiscate and destroy 71 miles of private and public riverfront land in Webb and Zapata counties to build 71 miles of wall. While Laredo was spared, other places along the border, particularly the Rio Grande Valley and Arizona, weren’t.
“We are grateful to Secretary Mayorkas for his decision to cease all studies in Laredo, but we stand in solidarity with all our fellow border communities to say that border walls are antiquated, ineffective and unnecessary,” said Carlos E. Flores, Laredo attorney and No Border Wall Coalition member.
Melissa R. Cigarroa, Zapata landowner and No Border Wall Coalition member decried the partisan politics that continues to drive the border wall. “My family fought the seizure of our land for a destructive and useless border wall from the beginning. It’s unnerving that so many Republicans continue to believe the lies and fear-mongering spread by hollow politicians groveling for money and votes. This round, at least, is won by the landowners who live, work and play on the border and know its truth and beauty.”
Sister Rosemary Welsh of the Sisters of Mercy and member of the No Border Wall Coalition, described “how terrible” construction of the border wall would have been for the community.
“We’re such a family on both sides of the border here in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo,” Welsh said. “The wall would have destroyed our families, and the very fabric of our culture. I’m sorry, and it’s just unbelievable, that it took so much energy to get to this point. We’re grateful but at the same time we’re very aware that other areas are still in this struggle and we want to stand in solidarity with them.”
Mayorkas’ announcement creates another monumental victory for Laredo and Zapata, and the Coalition’s constant and relentless efforts to stop expansion of the wall in South Texas.
Ricardo De Anda, Laredo riverfront landowner and attorney, commented further.
"This is another victory for landowners in Webb and Zapata counties who have, yet again, turned back the government's condemnation of Texas border ranches targeted for placement of its wall,” De Anda said. “Our river lands are held in good hands - Texan hands."
Although the four contracts and the $1 billion for Laredo are now rescinded, the fight still isn’t over and the deeper threat persists.
Under the Trump Administration, 27 federal laws were waived for Laredo and Zapata - including the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and others.
The waiver remains in effect, and despite Mayorkas’ ability to rescind the waiver at anytime, DHS can enact another waiver at any time to rush border wall construction though the U.S. Real ID Act of 2005.
“The utter disregard for the rule of law that this waiver presents only exists on the southern border and nowhere else in the United States,” said Tricia Cortez, executive director of the Rio Grande International Study Center and member of the No Border Wall Coalition. ”It’s what makes the entire border wall process outrageous, and so dangerous to our democracy and rights as American citizens.”
Cortez described the wall as a “sham” and stated that the Coalition isn’t resting on its laurels or letting its guard down with the Mayorkas announcement.
“We have to be ready at any future attempts by the feds to take our land, destroy our river, and turn the Gateway City into a walled city that destroys the very reason why we exist, the river,” Cortez said. “ We’re deeply saddened that this money is being allocated for other wall projects. We will always work to make Laredo an example of what life on the border is like - a place where people live and thrive and have a beautiful river that is a source of all life - and how residents on the border should be treated by our country.”
Flores explained what must happen next.
“Our community invites President Biden and Congress to bring an end to the REAL ID Act and to block any future legislation that would allow the federal government to unconstitutionally waive laws along the US-Mexico border to build border walls,” said Flores, who serves as lead counsel in Zapata v. Trump, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of border wall construction in the Laredo Sector.