Monday, December 3, 2007

Texas Colleges Argue That a Border Fence Would Divide a Community

Que ridículo y triste esto. -Angela

By KATHERINE MANGAN /December 7, 2007

The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College filed a resolution last week opposing the U.S. government's plans to erect 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border — a barrier they say could disrupt the border institutions and undermine their efforts to unite communities on opposite sides of the Rio Grande.

The fence is intended to slow illegal immigration and drug smuggling along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's initial plans would have cut through the university by leaving its International Technology, Education, and Commerce Campus stranded on the Mexican side of the fence. Amended, preliminary maps released last month showed the international campus on the U.S. side of the fence, but the university's golf course is still ceded to Mexico.

Antonio D. Zavaleta, vice president for external affairs for the partner institutions, which share a campus in Brownsville, just across the river from Matamoros, Mexico, said a fence would send the wrong message.

"The signal this sends to our brethren and family members across the river is the opposite of what we try to instill in our students in the classroom and elsewhere," he said.

The universities' resolution urged the U.S. government to pursue an alternative to a border fence. The resolution was signed by Chester Gonzalez, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Texas Southmost College District, and Eduardo A. Campirano, the board's secretary.

It pointed out that Brownsville and Matamoros are linked economically, culturally, and socially, "with the well-being of each community inexorably linked to that of the other." The universities' mission "involves the creation of knowledge and the exchange and diffusion of ideas, a mission that by its very nature tears down barriers of difference, distance and ignorance," it stated. University officials said the fence could impede efforts to recruit more students from Mexico; currently, fewer than 400 students commute daily from Mexico to the campus.

"In a post-9/11 world, students are fearful crossing the border," in part, because they worry their papers might be seized, said Mr. Zavaleta. Enrollment in the university's language institute plunged from 1,400 to 300 in 2002.

"Any increased militarization of the border is going to make students even more afraid."

'Issue of National Security'

A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security defended the border fence.

"We have been meeting extensively with state and local officials and appreciate the feedback, but at the end of the day, we plan to move forward," Laura Keehner, the spokesperson, said. "It's an issue of national security."

Another border campus, the University of Texas at El Paso, is cut off from Mexico by a chain-link fence. Twelve percent of its students commute daily from northern Mexico to the campus, where many pay in-state tuition through a program financed by the Texas Legislature.

Paula Goribar, a senior who commutes daily from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, says she has to get up at 5:30 every morning to beat the crowds crossing the border. Ms. Goribar, who naps in the student union until it is time for her campus job, is concerned that the border delays could become even worse with beefed-up security. "A border fence costs a lot and sends a message of hostility," she said.

That is not the attitude at every Texas university, however. Engineers at Texas A&M University at College Station, hundreds of miles from the border, are also bashing the proposed fence, but not because they don't like it. The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M is helping the U.S. Border Patrol come up with fences that can withstand assaults from forces even greater than angry trustees: blowtorches, axes, crowbars, and speeding SUV's.
Section: Money & Management
Volume 54, Issue 15, Page A24
Copyright © 2007 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


jose antonio said...

situaciones tan ridiculas como las narradas en el articulo solo se pueden dar cuando las decisiones se toman sin pensar y no solo eso sino que se ejecutan sin preveer las posibles consecuencias por lo que nos ecncontramos con que una parte de la escuela esta en mexico y otra en usa me gustaria ver que solucion daran a esto acaso habra elementos de la border patrol en el campus?

Manuel said...

A fence, a wall, isolation: archaic way to face a situation. To build a wall between our countries is forgetting historical relations we have had is forgetting two countries need each other is going backward in regional integration (a goal of NAFTA).

As Mexican the wall means to me hypocrisy: “we don’t want Mexicans in U. S., but we used Mexicans because they are helpful in our industries”. A wall does not mean protection, safeness for Americans, just means isolation and self-worship. Countries need each other as we see in European Union. Barriers, fences are not completely helpful, but working and dialoguing to grow up together.

It’s a shame that American government forgets that communities in both sides of the border are closely related. Somehow they have a common past, common traditions, and common ancestors. A wall will divide a community making harder social relations that Mexicans and Americans has with their family and friends in both sides of the border.