Thursday, January 8, 2009

City Representative Denied Access To Rio Bosque Park

January 7, 2008

EL PASO, Texas -- City Rep. Eddie Holguin came to Rio Bosque park a few weeks ago to give some water to a group of people protesting the border fence, but he got stopped in his car here, and was told he couldn't go any farther.

"When I went out there, there were Border Patrol agent blocking access to the park, actually closed the gate, and basically told me that I couldn't go in," said Holguin.

Holguin said he had to get out of his car and walk for miles.

"I don't believe that anyone has authority to block access to a city park that city taxpayers are paying for," he said.

KFOX went looking for answers. We uncovered that while Rio Bosque Park is city property, the road into it is owned by the El Paso County Water Improvement District. But in November, Homeland Security and the Army Corps of Engineers, through a court order, took control of the road.

"Allows the Corp of Engineers and Homeland Security, and their contractors to come in and out and travel that area to build the border fence," said Jesus Reyes, general manager of the El Paso County Water Improvement District.

The Army Corps of Engineers would not comment, saying it was an issue with Border Patrol and the water district. Upon uncovering this information, Border Patrol did not return KFOX's calls.

Before learning more about the road, Border Patrol officials said they were there on behalf of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). However, the IBWC has no control of the road, or the park.

"The court order does not allow Homeland Security to turn anybody away, unless they go into emergency situations there, and I am quite surprised that they would turn the city councilman away," said Reyes.

Holguin, weeks later, is still upset over the incident.

"I'm an elected official, I couldn't get to a park that I represent, how do they treat people that aren't elected officials?" Holguin told KFOX.

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