Author Topic: Build a wall? Trump should talk to the man who spent 25 years fixing it  (Read 537 times)

Offline imchills

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Fence builders began submitting design ideas for President Trump’s promised “big, beautiful wall” this week, so I drove to the border Monday to meet with an expert.

I knocked on the door of a small home in the heart of El Centro, and Albert Garcia, a 76-year-old retiree from the Border Patrol maintenance crew, answered immediately and let me in.

I hadn’t seen him since 2004, when I first wrote about Garcia, who spent more than two decades doing a job that never ended.

He was a welder who fixed holes in the fence, every day, including some weekends.

I’ll never forget the day I met Garcia, in August of 2004. He got to the wall at 6 a.m. that day to begin fixing five holes that had been cut overnight through the 16-foot-high fence of steel pickets. He said five holes was a light day at the office. He had fixed as many as 14 holes in a single shift, either along the chain-link or steel stretches of fencing, and he’d often find blades, cutters and other tools near the breaks.

Then there were those who tunneled under the fence or went over the top using ropes. Others rushed through holes in the wall even as Garcia fired up his welder to plug the openings.

For me, the daily game of cat and mouse along this several-mile stretch of the border was a snapshot of the futility of walls, enforcement and immigration policy. But a wall has been at the center of Trump’s platform since the first days of his candidacy, even though it’s not clear how we’ll pay for a project estimated to cost anywhere from $12 billion to twice as much or more.

Is there a way to build a better fence?

Garcia has his doubts, and would rather not see his tax dollars spent on a wall. And this is a man who voted, as a Democrat, for Trump. He liked the Republican’s take on the economy and defense, and even immigration, up to a point.

“I don’t think anything they make is going to hold them back,” said Garcia, who took an extended vacation at one point in his career because the daily undoing of his work was taking a psychological toll. “They’re going to come across and it doesn’t make any difference. If you can see blue sky, they’ll go up and over the top, or they’ll crawl underneath.”

It’s a short drive from El Centro to the wall in Calexico, and Garcia, a native of this area, knows every paved and dirt road in the region. We passed quilted acres of farmland, and Garcia can identify every crop in the fields — alfalfa, ryegrass, carrots, broccoli, sugar beets and every lettuce variety.

He had nine brothers and sisters, he said, and his dad, who worked in produce, brought all the kids out to the fields to sample the grueling, stooped-over work done by pickers. That was his dad’s way of telling his kids to stay in school.

Garcia said he doesn’t know any white people who work as pickers in this area, and he doesn’t think any of them would if all the immigrants in the country illegally were sent home. That’s just the way it is, he said, and rather than fortifying the wall, he would recommend seasonal work visas.

The All-American Canal runs along the border just west of Calexico, serving as a second barrier for anyone coming across. As we drove the levee road against the canal, Garcia’s trained eye spotted things I missed.

“You see that rope hanging from the top of the wall?” he said.

He also spotted the remnants of a raft that was used to cross the narrow canal.

This was a rough place to work, Garcia said, because of the trees on the Mexico side. People could hide in those trees and throw things at him. He was Border Patrol, the enemy, and sometimes rocks would fly at him. He has two dreams even now. In one, the rocks are coming, and in the other, he is wrestling someone who just busted through a hole in the fence, although that never happened.

Garcia said people used to ask him for money through the fence. He never complied, but he used to give fruit to a pack of kids on the other side because they looked so skinny. Years later, he said, those same kids became coyotes and once asked if he remembered them as boys.

Garcia is no open-borders guy, and his son has been an Immigration and Customs Enforcement cop for years. He said he feels sorry for Mexicans fleeing poverty, corruption and violence, and he’d probably do the same if he were in their shoes.

But some of them do become criminals, he said, and some of them do run up social service costs. As a taxpayer, he doesn’t like having to pay for that.

In downtown Calexico, Border Patrol agents swarmed an area near where I saw Garcia fixing holes in 2004. One agent said three guys who jumped the wall had just been apprehended.

Garcia retired 10 years ago and said he got bored within three months. The Border Patrol then contracted the job out to a private company that wanted Garcia to come back to work. He put in four more years doing the same job, then called it quits.

We did the math together and estimated that Garcia fixed more than 20,000 holes in roughly 25 years. An estimated 11 million people are in this country illegally, but Garcia’s hard work kept a lot of people out, no doubt.

But if it were up to him, he’d shore up electronic surveillance, modernize the wall in places and focus on building a vehicle barricade rather than a human barricade. He said humans will always find a way in, or over-stay visas, but vehicles carry drugs.

Garcia would support some form of penalties and legal status for law-abiding contributors here illegally, rather than foot the cost of mass deportation. And he’d institute a seasonal work visa program so workers can cross legally as needed.

Before Trump moves forward with the wall, I think he’d be wise to come west and talk to a man who knows — from years of experience — what he’s talking about.


http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-lopez-garcia-wall-20170308-story.html

Offline Battle

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Wednesday, 12th June 2019
Government agency forces open private border wall gate

by Catherine E. Shoichet and Nick Valenci


A federal agency has forced open a gate in the privately funded wall near the US-Mexico border, saying the group that built it didn't follow proper permitting procedures.

The US section of the International Boundary and Water Commission says the gate was blocking a government-owned levee road, and that the group known as We Build the Wall constructed the gate on federal land without authority.

"It's not the border wall that we have a problem with," spokeswoman Lori Kuczmanski said.

"The problem is the gate is on federal property. You just can't come in and build a gate on somebody's property without asking -- especially not giving them the keys and walking away from it. It's not right."

Representatives of the commission locked the gate open Monday afternoon, she said.

"After repeated requests to unlock and open the private gate, the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), accompanied by two uniformed law enforcement officers from the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office, removed the private lock, opened the gate, and locked the gate open pending further discussions with We Build the Wall," the commission's US section said in a statement.

We Build the Wall founder Brian Kolfage slammed the commission in a series of social media posts Tuesday, accusing the federal agency of overreaching its authority and calling for its presidentially appointed commissioner to resign.

In a statement to CNN, Kolfage said his group's attorneys are working on the matter -- comparing the situation to a permitting dispute with city officials in Sunland Park, New Mexico that was resolved after city officials issued a "cease and desist" notice temporarily blocking construction.

"Just like we saw with the City of Sunland Park, we will prevail," Kolfage said.

"Our lawyers have been working on this for weeks and we will regain control over the gate shortly."

The dispute pits We Build the Wall, an organization that raised more than $20 million for border wall construction in a GoFundMe campaign, against the US section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, a federal agency charged with applying boundary and water treaties between the US and Mexico.

The commission -- which has US and Mexican counterparts -- operates flood control levees, wastewater treatment plants and boundary monuments at numerous locations along the US-Mexico border, including the American Dam located near We Build the Wall's barrier. Its US section is headquartered in El Paso, Texas.

"The USIBWC is concerned about the safety and security of our employees and the infrastructure at the American Dam, which is next to the privately-constructed gate," the commission's US section said in a statement posted on its website.

"Despite USIBWC requests to locate the gate further from American Dam, the private gate was constructed in a way that may channel undocumented immigrants into the American Dam area. When the proper documentation is received for the permit, USIBWC will continue to process the permit application."

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico had called for the commission to intervene last week, criticizing the fence for blocking access to Monument One, a historical marker at the US-Mexico border.

A federal agency has forced open a gate in the privately funded wall near the US-Mexico border, saying the group that built it didn't follow proper permitting procedures.

The US section of the International Boundary and Water Commission says the gate was blocking a government-owned levee road, and that the group known as We Build the Wall constructed the gate on federal land without authority.

"It's not the border wall that we have a problem with," spokeswoman Lori Kuczmanski said.

"The problem is the gate is on federal property. You just can't come in and build a gate on somebody's property without asking -- especially not giving them the keys and walking away from it. It's not right."

Representatives of the commission locked the gate open Monday afternoon, she said.

"After repeated requests to unlock and open the private gate, the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), accompanied by two uniformed law enforcement officers from the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office, removed the private lock, opened the gate, and locked the gate open pending further discussions with We Build the Wall," the commission's US section said in a statement.

We Build the Wall founder Brian Kolfage slammed the commission in a series of social media posts Tuesday, accusing the federal agency of overreaching its authority and calling for its presidentially appointed commissioner to resign.
In a statement to CNN, Kolfage said his group's attorneys are working on the matter -- comparing the situation to a permitting dispute with city officials in Sunland Park, New Mexico that was resolved after city officials issued a "cease and desist" notice temporarily blocking construction.

"Just like we saw with the City of Sunland Park, we will prevail," Kolfage said.

"Our lawyers have been working on this for weeks and we will regain control over the gate shortly."

The dispute pits We Build the Wall, an organization that raised more than $20 million for border wall construction in a GoFundMe campaign, against the US section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, a federal agency charged with applying boundary and water treaties between the US and Mexico.



The commission -- which has US and Mexican counterparts -- operates flood control levees, wastewater treatment plants and boundary monuments at numerous locations along the US-Mexico border, including the American Dam located near We Build the Wall's barrier. Its US section is headquartered in El Paso, Texas.

"The USIBWC is concerned about the safety and security of our employees and the infrastructure at the American Dam, which is next to the privately-constructed gate," the commission's US section said in a statement posted on its website.

"Despite USIBWC requests to locate the gate further from American Dam, the private gate was constructed in a way that may channel undocumented immigrants into the American Dam area. When the proper documentation is received for the permit, USIBWC will continue to process the permit application."

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico had called for the commission to intervene last week, criticizing the fence for blocking access to Monument One, a historical marker at the US-Mexico border.



Kolfage told CNN a private property owner also owns part of the road leading to the monument and has the right to limit access.

"Access to the monument can ultimately be restricted indefinitely by the private property landowner if he deems it's necessary since he owns the road further up the way," he said.

But Kuczmanski, the commission spokeswoman, said concerns about access to the monument were also being considered as part of the permit application.

Permits can take up to six months to process, she said.

"They're lacking paperwork and information that we need to make a final determination," she said, including a hydrology study and a drainage report.

It's not typical for a project to move forward without a permit, she said.

"Usually everybody is very cooperative and they well in advance tell us their intent, and they give us all their plans, and all their specifications, and all their documents," she said.

"And we say 'yea' or 'nay,' and we proceed from there."







Would You Like To Know More?
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/government-agency-forces-open-private-border-wall-gate/ar-AACJjcA?ocid=spartanntp