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Unable and unwilling to unite behind comprehensive immigration reform, Congress is set to fall back on the tried and true: let some juicy contracts with money it doesn't have and scream about Security so no one will notice that no problem is really being solved.

The Senate may vote on HR 6061 on Monday. (Funding? Eh, who cares?)

Time is short. Contact your Senator and tell them no. Phone numbers and email for your Senator

Patt Morrison gives the bill her unique treatment in the LA  Times:

Because it's for national security -- and of course nothing can ever be more important than national security -- the Secure Fence Act will bulldoze through nearly 40 years of laudable laws: the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, California coastal regulations, the Federal Water Pollution Act, the Clean Air Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It's like they never existed.

If you want to see what 700 miles of this dead zone will look like, go check out San Diego, where a shorter fence has gone up. Jim Pugh of the San Diego Audubon Society and some other folks spent a couple of days last week on their knees in the dirt where bulldozers are shaving the land for the last of the 14 miles of fencing that starts at the ocean. They were trying to dig up and move out of harm's way, one at a time, some of the last surviving specimens of a plant called the Baja bird bush.

What they won't be able to save is the wildlife, sea life and plant life that will die when the feds cut off the tops of two mesas and dump the dirt -- more than 2 million cubic yards of it -- into a canyon called Smuggler's Gulch. For decades, illegal immigrants have crossed here. The feds want to fill up the gulch with dirt and build patrol roads and fences on top of it. But then the rain will carve gullies and send muck into the Tijuana River estuary that has taken years and millions of dollars to clean up. "They're going to be spending tens of millions of dollars to destroy nature," says Pugh, where "a good single fence ... would do pretty much everything a double or triple fence would do."

Morrison's take on a 700-mile wall securing a 2000-mile border:

That's like putting your faith in half a condom.

Indeed. But the wall will have its effect:
The Center for Biological Diversity condemned a proposal that is before the U.S. Senate to build a massive series of fences and walls over 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, calling the plan a colossal environmental disaster and declaring that it will not stem the tide of illegal immigration.

"The only living things the walls won't stop are people," said Michael Finkelstein, Executive Director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Jaguars, Mexican Gray Wolves, Peninsular Bighorn Sheep, and other endangered species need to cross their borderland habitat often, and this wall will crush their ability to survive."

Proposed border construction projects will severely harm some of the Southwest's most significant lands and wildlife habitat, including wildlife refuges, national parks, forests and wilderness areas. More border walls further damage already-stressed wildlife and places, such as the Cactus Pygmy Owl and Sonoran Pronghorn in Arizona; Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard and Peninsular Ranges Bighorn Sheep in California; Jaguar and Mexican Gray Wolves in New Mexico; and the Rio Grande River, Ocelot, and Big Bend National Park in Texas. Walls harm wildlife by blocking critical migration corridors and destroying valuable habitat.

Boeing is licking its chops at the thought of its role in building the new DMZ. (thanks to Simplify) The more the momentum builds, the harder this will be to stop.

Tell the Senate to quit play acting, stop wasting money, stop degrading what's left of our environment, and get serious about immigration reform. Our goal should be to someday have a border with our friends to the south that resembles that with Canada, not a cordon sanitaire of sterilized ground and machine gun turrets. We are heading in the wrong direction.

Originally posted to melvin on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 03:27 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A moat around Baghdad and a wall on our border. (9+ / 0-)

    Heck of a job, Bushie.  I am just too sick of this administratio, I think it is making me physically ill, seriously.

    "If you can't stand behind our troops, then, please, feel free to stand in front of them."

    by panicbean on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 03:35:36 PM PDT

    •  See? I can't even spell anymore! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Administration, administration, administration, oh hell.

      "If you can't stand behind our troops, then, please, feel free to stand in front of them."

      by panicbean on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 03:37:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why not a moat between the US and Mexico... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      panicbean, melvin, CSI Bentonville

      A fence is not a good idea.  There has got to be a better way.

      The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity." - Harlan Ellison

      by dkmich on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 04:05:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A moat would require water (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dkmich, panicbean, melvin, wa ma

        And agribusiness would steal all the water before it arrived at the border and if any water did make it then it would be full of agricultural runoff of pesticides, herbacides and manure (e coli).

        Course corporate agribusiness water would be lethal so maybe that is the answer.

        Likely agribusiness will kill all of us first though.

        What. . . oh, I've wiped the file? Oh, damn. . . I've wiped ALL the files? . . . I've wiped the internet? Oh no, I don't even have a modem! Eddie Izzard

        by CSI Bentonville on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 04:27:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agribusiness.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dkmich, CSI Bentonville

          will plow under their spinach and let the fruit rot on the trees before they won't vote for a Republican- oh wait, they are doing that now.  Now watch while they get a big bailout.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 09:38:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm actually quite torn -- Warning: LONG Soapbox (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stumptown Dave

            Earthbound Farms has been a stellar company in a number of ways especially in sticking up for the organic ideals and pitching a fit when the corporate Organic Trade Association (OTA) used their name without permission on a letter to congress trying to get the organic standards lessened.

            Consumer Reports Covers the Organic Standards "Food Fight"
            From: Consumer Reports
            February 2006

            Lobbying by large food companies to weaken organic rules started when the U.S. Department of Agriculture fully implemented organic labeling standards in October 2002. Food producers immediately fought the new rules. A Georgia chicken producer was ultimately able to persuade one of his state's congressional representatives to slip through a federal legislative amendment in a 2003 appropriations bill to cut its costs. The amendment stated that if the price of organic feed was more than twice the cost of regular feed--which can contain heavy metals, pesticides, and animal byproducts -- then livestock producers could feed their animals less costly, nonorganic feed but still label their products organic.

            That bizarre change in standards was repealed in April 2003 after consumers and organic producers protested, but the fight to maintain the integrity of organic labeling continues. In October 2005, Congress weakened the organic-labeling law despite protests from more than 325,000 consumers and 250 organic-food companies. The law overturns a recent court ruling that barred the use of synthetic ingredients in "organic" foods. It mostly affects processed products such as canned soups and frozen pizza.

            The Massachusetts-based Organic Trade Association (OTA), which represents large and small food producers including corporate giants such as Kraft Foods and Archer Daniels Midland Co., supported the amendment. "The issue is whether processed products could use a list of benign synthetic ingredients already approved by the National Organic Standards Board," says Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the OTA, "and we do not believe standards will be weakened at all."

            Not all organic producers agree, however. Executives at Earthbound Farm, which has been in the organic business for more than 20 years and is the nation's leading supplier of specialty organic salad greens, were startled to find their company's name on an OTA letter supporting the amendment.  Earthbound objects to built-in "emergency exemptions" that would allow nonorganic ingredients in organically labeled food if the organic alternative is considered "commercially unavailable." As with the Georgia chicken-feed case, if organic corn is expensive because it's in short supply, a soup maker might argue that it is commercially unavailable and get an exemption to use nonorganic corn.

            "This presents a risk to the integrity of the organic label that we would have preferred not to see," says Charles Sweat, chief operating officer at Earthbound Farm.

            [emphasis mine]

            I do think Earthbound is a bit too big and did get cocky as evidenced by this statement:

            "Our food system is industrial," Drew Goodman says. "The only way to play that game is to reach the scale that you can get into Kroger's and Whole Foods."

            Of people who want to go beyond organic, or tie organic to a way of life or a local food system, he asks, "Why should it be about sacrifice? Why should you have to forgo the salad in winter because local means within 100 miles of home?"

            However, there's a lot of misleading, unsubstantiated, and just plain wrong stuff being reported as fact on this site in the last day or so and I'm a bit miffed by it. Spinach has turned dKos into gossip talk central.

            While Earthbound is large as organic goes they do practice responsible organic practices of diverse crops, rotation and cover crops. They also are much like Organic Valley milk in being a co-op for many farmers. They've planted nearly half a million trees as well.

            Local though is still the best.

            What I see is Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are responsible for e.coli 0157 in the first place in that grain-feeding raises the stomach acidity of an animal meant to eat grasses. This provides optimal breeding ground for the specific 0157 bacterium that didn't seem to exist before CAFOs. The major mounds of manure that are much like the spent rods for nuclear power are leaching into the waterways and ground waters and contaminating wells, ponds, lakes, rivers, creeks and more. The estrogen hormone cattle are injected with is also changing the food chain on up through contamination from CAFOs.

            What needs to change is corn and corn subsidies (and genetically modified corn). Turn those corn fields into grasslands again and return the cow to the solar powered animal it was meant to be rather than the 284 gallons of fossil fuel per head piece of marbling we're told we like.


            Anyway, I know it's pretty OT in Melvin's diary and I'll get down off my soapbox in a moment (even though I could easily go on) but I would put money on the Earthbound people likely being dems and unlikely to be getting any bailouts (course I've been wrong before). This spinach disaster is going to be disasterous for a lot of independent farmers and the corps will sail right through it perhaps even better for it as they can afford the propaganda the masses are hungry to hear.

            Sorry murrayewv for this rant on your innocent comment. I've just been aggravated all day regarding comments of mine co-opted by others then twisted into falsity and liberally spread throughout this site as the final authority resembling an eat your own witch hunt.

            I'd hoped we were better than that.

            What. . . oh, I've wiped the file? Oh, damn. . . I've wiped ALL the files? . . . I've wiped the internet? Oh no, I don't even have a modem! Eddie Izzard

            by CSI Bentonville on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 01:50:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly, many desperate immigrants have swam (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dkmich, CSI Bentonville

          through the heavily polluted river between Tijuana and San Diego to reach the U.S. Others have lost their lives in the Rio Grande.  So, I don't think even a moat is going to solve this problem.

          •  wa ma (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wa ma

            The tale of the Colorado River for one is more what I was referring to in my (heavy on snark tinged with reality) moat comment.

            The lower course of the river, which forms the border between Baja California and Sonora, is essentially a trickle or a dry stream today due to use of the river as Imperial Valley's irrigation source. Prior to the mid 20th century, the Colorado River Delta provided a rich estuarine marshland that is now essentially desiccated, but nonetheless is an important ecological resource.

            A moat is a ridiculous idea for a ridiculous political situation since it is the corporations who are benefitting. Corporate agribusinesses are the ones who use and abuse the most those who cross the border by underpaying and overworking undocumented workers often using intimidation on illegal status. Think Tyson or Ernie and Julio Gallo who are right up their with the Wal-Mart clan in pushing for the repeal of the estate tax while being notorious for their illegal hiring practices.

            What. . . oh, I've wiped the file? Oh, damn. . . I've wiped ALL the files? . . . I've wiped the internet? Oh no, I don't even have a modem! Eddie Izzard

            by CSI Bentonville on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 12:29:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, I knew no one was seriously proposing... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CSI Bentonville

              a moat.

              I did even realize you were referring to the Colorado River.  I used to live in San Diego area.  As a child, our first stop on our annual summer vacation road trip was Blythe (of all places) to visit my Aunt and cousins and meet whoever might be "my uncle" that year.  Then we would proceed to Colorado, but often with a stop at the Grand Canyon.  So, I guess I feel kind of a nostalgic affection for the Colorado.

              And I agree with what you say about corporate agribusiness.  The meat processors are very culpable, as well.  They just tell the job contractors how many workers they need and the contractors go down and recruit them and instruct them on how to get across the border.  And then they get them to the processing plant where they expect them to work insanely fast at an extremely dangerous job.

          •  Crocodiles.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CSI Bentonville

            just kidding.

            The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity." - Harlan Ellison

            by dkmich on Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 02:10:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Boeing - the aircraft maker won the contract? (3+ / 0-)

    Must have been a very good lunch they had with Denny Hastert.

    I wonder how much Josh Hastert - Denny's son the indie-garage-band-record-producer-lobbiest will make off the deal.

    Boeing is headquartered in Chicago. Just a boing-boing jump to Denny's district.

    Denny Hastert is getting a pass from too many people who should know better

    by llbear on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 03:40:01 PM PDT

  •  Don't say moat (5+ / 0-)

    you'll give the rethugs ideas on "securing our border"....

    How primitive and cruel it is to build a wall along our own borders simply to keep out the "huddled masses yearning to be free"...yeah, so much for "give us your poor"...this land is for everyone not just the biggest military power.

  •  No wall because I want to be able to get out if (4+ / 0-)

    I have to!

    I have no Senators so I'm counting all of you who do.

    Thanks in advance.

  •  Environment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, melvin, CSI Bentonville

    I'm a bit stunned.  This is not a consequence I had considered.  The wall is stupid on its face and a complete boondoggle, but filling in canyons?  Great idea.

    There was news today that Boeing got a border surveillance contract, as well.

    We're all just monkeys burning in hell.

    by smokeymonkey on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 05:01:25 PM PDT

  •  Here's a link to tomorrow's WaPo article (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roses, Simplify, CSI Bentonville

    on the Boeing deal.

    Check out this quote from the Border Patrol union's president

    Chertoff's announcement was met with skepticism by T. J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents 11,000 agents. Bonner said giving agents a better sense of who is crossing the border and where wouldn't do much good on its own. "Surveillance technology can be useful if you have enough people on the ground to respond to it," he said. "But if you don't, you just have to file it away because you're too busy with the first 50 people that the cameras caught. It's not the solution to the illegal immigration problem. The solution is denying access to jobs so people don't come across.

    Interior enforcement and employer sanctions...this is what the Border Patrol agents I talk to want.

    •  anotyher way to "deny access to jobs" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      roses, CSI Bentonville, wa ma

      There's actually a humanly decent way to do it:  end agribusiness subsidies.

      Follow with me for a sec here:  We subsidize our crops.  We flood the market with cheap food.  Mexican farmers are forced to pay their workers pennies to compete.  The workers come here instead, where they're paid much better... by our tax dollars.  Then we spend even more tax dollars setting up all these rules and all this (ineffective) enforcement.

      Get rid of the subsidies.  It would rationalize the food market, relieve immigration pressure, improve the lives of those in other countries, reduce the deficit, and make our society better by improving respect for the law, all in one shot.  The other side is that artificially high agribusiness profit margins would go down, and we would have to pay just a smidge more for food.  Sounds about right to me.

      And no fence!

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 10:31:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, CSI Bentonville

        I understand that there is so much complexity to this issue and am aware that our Nafta trade policies are doing a tremendous amount of harm.  I didn't mean to ignore that or mimimize it.  I guess the intent of my post was to show that even the Border Patrol agents who aren't necessarily aware of this, are smart enough to realize that no matter what you do at the border, it's not going to work if you don't do something about the huge push from the South and the enormous pull from the North.

  •  Thanks for writing this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville, wa ma

    I didn't have the stomach for more than posting the comment earlier...

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 10:32:45 PM PDT

  •  This article (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    Border Fence Must Skirt Objections From Arizona Tribe ran in the NY Times this week.  The tribe members have traditionally traveled freely back and forth across the border.

  •  I can't figure this out... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    it seems to me they're planning to build the first set of Boeing towers/cameras/sensors along a section of the border where they're also planning to build the fence.  Why would they need both in the same place?

    Looks like the price tag for the SBInet is $2.5 billion.  Many estimates for the fence say it will cost about that much, too.  But, remember, once Boeing installs all those towers/cameras/sensors, someone is going to have to maintain them.  Who's going to do that and how much will that cost?  As far as the cost of the fence... Who knew?... that $2.5 billion price tag is for materials only.  From:

    "Q & A:  Building a Barrier Along the Border with Mexico"

    Q: How much would extending the fence cost?

    There's no official government estimate of how much it would cost to build a 700-mile-long border fence. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the main backer of the fence plan, has been quoted as estimating the project would cost about $2.2 billion. That's roughly $3 million per mile. But Sean Garcia, an expert on fencing with the Latin American Working Group, says the costs are likely to be much higher. Garcia notes that Hunter severely underestimated the cost of the San Diego fence, which is the model for the larger fence. Hunter said the San Diego fence would cost $14 million, or about $1 million a mile. The first 11 miles of the fence actually cost $42 million, or $3.8 million per mile, Garcia says; the last 3.5 miles may cost several times that much because they cover more difficult terrain. And that's just the cost for building materials. Labor, surveillance cameras, sensors, lighting and road construction are not included. Plus, there are the potential costs of fighting any lawsuits that may crop up, and of buying land from private landowners.

  •  Here's something else wrong with HR 6061 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    Bill requires review of border patrol policies

    Border patrol officials will be required to evaluate the actions and training of their agents in the field as part of an amendment to the border fence bill passed by the House on Thursday.

    The amendment was attached to the bill this week by House members questioning internal law enforcement policies that prohibit Border Patrol agents from pursuing fleeing suspects in vehicles.

    The Section 5 amendment was in response to circumstances surrounding the conviction of two Texas Border Patrol agents who violated their department's pursuit policy when they chased a fleeing drug smuggler on Feb. 17, 2005.

    Lou Dobbs made a big deal a while back about the prosecution of these two guys.  I guess he and the members of Congress who think there is something wrong with the Border Patrol's pursuit policy don't know why that policy is in place.

    Within an instant - five lives were lost

    The Suburban had been fleeing U.S. Border Patrol agents, who say they broke off the pursuit shortly before the crash.

    Police determined the Suburban was traveling at 66 mph when it broadsided the Acura. The impact sliced the sedan in two, killing the three people inside.

    John Davis, 46, was driving his son, Todd, 18, and Todd's friend, Monisa Emilio, 14, to school that morning. They never made it.

    Police determined that the Suburban ---- which weighed 7,740 pounds including the 12 occupants ---- continued skidding upside down along Rancho Vista Road where it slammed into a brother and sister walking to school.

    Gloria Murillo, 17, and Jose "Tommy" Murillo, 16, were on the sidewalk walking to class when they were hit and killed.

    Within an instant, five lives were lost.

    Victims still coping with losses from wreck that changed Border Patrol policy

    There is a reason the Border Patrol needs to take a cautious approach towards pursuits.  Currently, agents aren't prohibited from pursuing fleeing suspects, but they are required to get approval from a supervisor shortly after they begin a pursuit.  How much time and money should the Department of Homeland Security spend to figure out that the Border Patrol is not typically pursuing one guy winding through neighborhoods or booking down the freeway----they're typically pursuing a van or SUV packed to the roof with men and women, often over an unpaved road.  Even I'm smart enough to know that's not gonna end well.  And death or serious injury should not be the penalty for entering the U.S. illegally.

  •  When are people going to realize.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wa ma

    ...that there won't be a fix to the illegal immigration problem until Mexico fixes itself.  They'll always find a way in, so maybe instead of spending money on a fence that won't work, we ought to put pressure on the Mexican government.  We have a country full of vibrant intelligent people, considerable natural resources, and perfectly positioned for trade with Europe, South America, Asia, and the USA; so why aren't they rich?  If it isn't the people or the location or the resources, it must be the political culture.  Duh.  There are at least two insurrections against Mexico's federal government going on right now.  So why isn't the Bush administration bitching at the Mexicans about public works projects, more social spending, and crackdowns on corruption?   Consider that a rhetorical question.  We already know the answer.

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