Harlingen City Commission to vote on resolution opposing border wall

HARLINGEN — It’s a moment many local advocates on both sides of President Donald Trump’s push for a border wall have been waiting for.

Tonight, city commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution opposing the plan for a border wall.

Nearly 300 area residents petitioned the city to consider the resolution, which argues the border wall would destroy native habitat critical to endangered species, Joyce Hamilton, a group leader, said yesterday.

“I’m in favor of the resolution,” Mayor Chris Boswell said yesterday.

Boswell, noting the city sponsors the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, said he believes city commissioners also oppose the border wall’s potential encroachment on native habitat.

“Most of us would agree we don’t want anything to intrude on wildlife habitat,” Boswell said.

Since late August, Hamilton said the group has requested Boswell and City Manager Dan Serna’s office place the resolution on the agenda of a City Commission meeting.

“It was just a question of timing,” Boswell said. “We had other things we needed to address.”

From August to September, officials worked to finalize the city’s new budget and sought new police and firefighter contracts amid collective bargaining negotiations, Boswell said.

“It was not anything about not trying to get it on (the agenda),” Boswell said. “We couldn’t get it on till now.”

Hamilton said the group crafted the resolution for Harlingen but also considered resolutions approved by Cameron and Hidalgo counties and 15 Valley cities.

The resolution states “the city commission of Harlingen, Texas, endorses a border security strategy on the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge that is minimally intrusive on natural habitat, preserving and protecting the old-growth native forest from the proposed 150-foot clearance for fencing and lighting and preserving the access for tourists and residents who have enjoyed this natural space since its dedication in 1943.”

According to the resolution, “the national and international birding communities have expressed grave concern about the proposal to build levee walls through Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the National Butterfly Center and other sensitive wildlife preserves along the (Rio Grande) river.”

The resolution describes the existing border wall as “the most expensive and least effective means of securing the border according to security experts.”

Proposed resolution opposing the proposed border wall

>> Encroaches on private property

>> Threatens to cause flooding and erosion

>> Destroys native habitat

>> Threatens Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge