Senator Lucio's Letterhead

CAPITOL UPDATE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2008
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez , Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385

Congressional Hearing on Border Fence Omits Local Input

I want to thank the Freedom and other South Texas newspapers for giving me and countless others the forum we were denied at the Monday, April 28 Congressional field hearing on the proposed border fence.

The public and various local elected officials were denied the representative government guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution by not allowing us to address the Congressional party. The witnesses were unmistakably pre-chosen and the rest of us ignored. Fortunately, freedom of the press still exists, but not freedom to address our grievances to federal officials. It has been stymied by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

This blatant disrespect for the many people who wanted to address their public officials originates with Chertoff's failure to listen to the people who will be hurt the most, especially landowners.

Although it was clear that the final decision has been made by Chertoff, we could have been given at least two minutes to add our remarks to the record. His refusals to hear the will of the people prompted many more of us to attend the hearing, thus straining the time constraints the Congressional delegation was under.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva from Arizona, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands of the House Natural Resources Committee, presided over the hearing. Although he has filed legislation that would repeal Chertoff's waiver authority, he was unable to get the Congressional hearing to accomplish his intent. He said, "The decision to invoke a waiver for fence construction will devastate the region and is an insult to those of us who live near the border. This Administration believes that it is above the laws that protect the environment, health and human safety of border communities. We have a fundamental responsibility to consult with local communities on the best approach to border protection for each specific region." His good intentions were sabotaged by others.

Colorado U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo verbally assaulted us when he said, "If you don't like the idea (of a fence), maybe you should consider building the fence around the northern part of your city." The lack of sensitivity to our region and our culture by this elected official defies all logic.

The following are excerpts from my silenced testimony:

I want to commend Congressman Grijalva and Congresswoman Bordallo for their leadership in hosting this hearing; as well as the members of our Texas Congressional Delegation present today. This is truly what representative government is all about.

I also want to thank everyone here today who will share their views and who plan on taking the bus tour that will follow the hearing. Efforts such as these are the most effective way to unite against an ill-advised policy those in Washington want to force upon us.

I cannot comprehend how our federal government thinks it reflects the wishes of Border Americans through such actions.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has made a decision to waive laws and regulations to begin construction of the border wall, showing a complete disregard for the law and wishes of the Border community.

His expedited wall plan has misplaced priorities and has threatened the very landowner rights we cherish in our great nation. This is unacceptable.

With the current state of our economy and problems with our nation's financial health, one would expect spending priorities to be elsewhere.

Why waste billions of dollars on a wall that won't keep illegal immigrants out? It's a stronger Mexican economy and enhanced equipment for our Border Patrol that will keep illegal immigrants out. Not a wall.

Funds would be better spent to clean up the Rio Grande. There are transportation infrastructure needs that could use additional funding. We need money for improving health care and education. Funding would be better used to build a Veteran's Hospital for our wounded warriors here in South Texas. We need to strengthen our levee system and our bridges. Instead, the federal government erroneously proposes to spend taxpayer money on a wall nobody wants or needs. This is inexcusable.

I trust that our congressional leaders -united against intrusion by the federal government on our lives, our lands, our economy, and our way of life, will do all that is possible to prevent this giant waste. This congressional hearing is proof that we do have leadership in Congress willing to listen to what communities along the entire U.S.-Mexico border have to say.

This "field trip," which probably cost in the neighborhood of $50,000, accomplished what? Chertoff is getting his way and we must comply.

Thank you again to the newspapers of South Texas for acting as the information pipeline and voice of the people, and for voicing your own opinions on the proposed border fence.

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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