Texas Tribune blog
June 15, 2010
by Juan Aguilar
The Texas Border Coalition, a group of elected officials and business leaders, today asked a Republican congressman whose district is hundreds of miles from the border to keep his ignorance in check.
U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, released a statement claiming the death of 15-year-old Sergio Adrían Hernández Güereca, who was shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on June 7, could have been prevented had the contentious “border wall” been in place in El Paso. Güereca was part of a group that allegedly threw rocks at U.S. law enforcement across the concrete banks of the Rio Grande.
“When faced with a life threatening situation, this agent appears to have responded to lethal force with lethal force as authorized. But this incident could have been avoided if the Administration had lived up to its responsibility under the ‘Secure Fence Act’ to build fences on our border,” King said.
Not so fast, the TBC quipped back.
“While few expect elected officials in Washington to understand every nuance of border security, members of Congress, such as Mr. King, should research basic facts before issuing press releases revealing their lack of acquaintance with reality,” said TBC chairman Del Rio Mayor Efrain Valdez. “Beginning in the early 20th century, the U.S. government has financed the construction of border fences in El Paso. In 1925, a ‘hog tight, horse high, and boot-legger-proof’ barbed-wire fence was built in El Paso. Observation towers were added in 1937.”
The towers were subsequently removed, but the fence was reinforced in 1978 with what its manufacturer said was wire so sharp “anyone who tried to scale them might lose his fingers and toes.” Holes were cut into the fence within a week.
“In the past few years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has spent hundreds of millions of dollars constructing new and ‘improved’ fencing between El Paso and Juarez, obviously with the same ineffective results that have been evident for 85 years. Mr. King, we understand Iowa’s interest in border security," Valdez said. "We merely suggest you become familiar with the facts next time, before shooting off your mouth.”