• Únete 956

Santa Ana avoids border wall in omnibus bill; but is it victory for RGV community?

Updated: Feb 20, 2019


By Únete 956


On Friday the 23, congress approved a $1.3 trillion spending bill that would fund the government through September, which includes some funding for the border wall, with the exception of Santa Ana National Wildlife refuge--an area that environmental, immigrant justice and indigenous rights activists have been fighting to defend.


But is this a victory?


In the immediate aftermath of the news, local, environmental activists and community members, Scott Nicol and Stefanie Herweck, wrote in The Monitor that: “The fact...Congress felt compelled to save Santa Ana by explicitly forbidding walls there is a clear demonstration that activism can have an impact. Last summer hundreds of people linked hands on the levee that President Donald Trump wanted to turn into a wall, and in January more than 800 came out for the Save Santa Ana Rally. In between, members of Congress received hundreds of postcards, letters, emails and phone calls, and Valley residents repeatedly traveled to Washington, D.C., to let them know that those of us who live along the border oppose border walls. But Congress missed the bigger message: We reject all border walls, not just the stretch that would target Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge.


Environmental and immigrant justice activist, Jackelin E. Treviño, also stated that work is still to be done, while commenting on Dr. Jeffrey Glassburg’s (founder of the North American Butterfly Association and pioneer of genetic fingerprinting) vision for butterflies at risk in the borderlands: “A key part of this man's vision for saving butterflies is at risk thanks to recently funded border walls… The fight against Walls is not over. There is so much heart in the way of these walls!” The Monitor’s Editorial Board editorialized a thank you to U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, for his support for the crown jewel of national wildlife refuges, and for being a force behind the exclusion of Santa Ana from walls, despite his vote against the omnibus because it nonetheless included walls. Congressman Vela spoke at the Save Santa Ana rally held on January 27, hosted by the No Border Wall coalition, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and the Sierra Club. They concluded: “How much of a threat is left to be seen. But, according to the bill, the monies must be provided no less than six months from signing the bill into law and so whether we like it, or not, we should soon see construction activity begin here.” The inclusive and broad RGV activist community begs to differ.


The no Border Wall Coalition is gearing up for a sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony next Sunday, April 8 at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge hosted by the Comecrudo Tribe, who are native to the RGV and the land on which Santa Ana sits. Although they will commemorate this battle, the coalition by no means concedes that the war is over.

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