Monday, September 1, 2008

Granjeno celebrates Labor Day with wall protest

The Monitor
September 1, 2008

GRANJENO — Work continued on the border wall Monday evening as residents and local activists celebrated Labor Day with chicken, rice and a side of protest.

After the holiday dinner, about a dozen activists placed protest signs on the levees adjacent to unfinished wall. The signs were then taken down and tossed aside by an employee from Ballenger Construction, the firm building the barrier.

About 200 people feasted at the Granjeno community center in an event put together by "Resist the Wall," an activist network that is against both the border wall and what they say is the larger issue fueling the barrier's construction: anti-immigrant mentality.

"We didn't want to focus on just the environment and the wall," said Ann Williams Cass, one of the founding members. The dinner was designed to remind people that "immigrants have built this country," she added.

Katella Quintero, 21, brought her boyfriend Mark Cantu, 27, to the dinner so she could earn extra credit for a University of Texas Pan-American class. Meeting Granjeno residents whose homes will now be wall-front property was "surreal" and made the construction concrete, she said.

"It's kind of sad," she said.

Hidalgo County is slated to have 22 miles of a dual-purpose concrete wall, levee system complex that Congress approved in the name of national security. Original plans for the wall threatened to cost many people in Granjeno their land until the residents pushed back and the site was moved back to federal property along the levees but near the homes of the 485 residents.

David Anschen, an assistant professor of English at the UTPA, said he adamantly opposes the wall and he still hopes it will come tumbling down before it's finished.

"Like Humpty Dumpty, it won't be put back together again," he said.

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