Senator Lucio's Letterhead

OP-ED FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 11, 2006
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez , Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0127

Fencing off our neighbors to the south is un-American

A recent Brownsville Herald editorial by Publisher Daniel Cavazos represents the sentiments of many Texans, whether Hispanic or not. I commend him for an insightful look at a controversial issue.

In criticism of the proposed wall between this country and Mexico, Mr. Cavazos sarcastically advocates building a second wall between the United States and Canada based on the national security premise.

The reality, Mr. Cavazos adds, is that "It's not so much the terrorism thing as much as it is that the United States has too many Mexicans living here." His point is worth considering. I feel a wall sends the wrong message to our neighbors and the world.

When the European settlers first arrived here, they mistreated Native Americans, often stealing their land. We've learned from this mistake, and we should not repeat this mistreatment of others, regardless of their origins.

Looking back at all immigrants from centuries ago, we recall that many were mistreated like the Irish and Chinese. Most showed little compassion for these towards these newcomers, concentrating only on their own interests. Are we now resurrecting this lack of compassion toward Mexican immigrants primarily here to earn enough money to feed their families?

What we need is an effective guest worker program that doesn't exploit Mexican immigrants, doesn't hurt the American worker and benefits employers. Controlled immigration is not easy to accomplish, but it is much more humane and American.

We hear accounts that thousands of illegal immigrants from other countries live in this country, but you won't ever hear Fox's Bill O'Riley discuss this. I'm not critical of anyone coming to our shores seeking a better life, which is what our ancestors have done for generations. I criticize the lack of compassion for people who are hungry and desperate.

Besides compassion, maintaining a friendly relationship with Mexico, our largest trading partner, makes economic sense. As chair of the International Relations and Trade Committee, my continuing goal is to strengthen our relations with Mexico. If we improve the economies on both sides of the Border, we improve life for the rest of the country through economic expansion.

Also, an estimated 1 million Americans have chosen to reside or even retire on Mexican soil. Mexico's open door policy welcomes them, including U.S. citizens who work there in various industries, as well as our young people who we send there to become fluent in Spanish.

Hunter Hunt, senior vice president of Hunt Oil Company, was recently quoted in the media for the following statement made at a ceremonial groundbreaking announcing the sharing of electricity between Mexico and Texas: "At a time when there is so much ignorance and ill-founded fear about the Border separating our two great nations, we are exceptionally proud to be working on a project that further binds our countries together and that enhances the energy, reliability and trade opportunities on both sides of this river."

To enhance security on the Border, instead of building a wall and spending enormous sums to do so, we should continue to increase funding for local law enforcement, as well as for the Border Patrol, to avail them of more officers and better equipment.

Publicizing this wall has begun to incite racism. A sixteen-year-old Hispanic boy is desperately holding on to his life after recently being sodomized and beaten by two Anglo young men in Houston. They allegedly attacked him claiming that he tried to kiss a white girl.

Mexican people are not just neighbors and relatives, but they are also heroes. At least 41 Hispanic Americans have earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in war, and three were born in Mexico. Mexican nationals have also fought for America in our wars.

We need to remain united as a state and a country, instead of creating divisiveness among Americans between those with brown skin or Spanish surnames and those we refer to as Anglo Americans.

Walls are made to be broken. Nov. 9, 1989 marks the fall of the Berlin Wall, which separated East and West Germany for almost 30 years. At least 100 people were killed at the Berlin Wall. These and countless others who did escape East Berlin were seeking political freedom. Today's immigrants from Mexico are seeking economic freedom.

The flow of commerce between Texas and Mexico will be stymied with such a barrier. The Texas Border will suffer economically, socially and culturally. In olden times, walls, like the Great Wall of China, protected countries. Today, a wall symbolizes weakness in government, posing no real solution to our immigration problems. It is essential that dialogue between our countries and amongst ourselves on this topic continues.

As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my press secretary, 512-463-0385.

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