Thursday, September 22, 2011

Feds plan forum on Paisano Drive border fence

El Paso Times
September 22, 2011
by Daniel Borunda

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials will have a public meeting tonight about the environmental impact of the planned construction of an 18-foot-tall border fence at a historic spot off West Paisano Drive.

The open-house-style meeting by CBP Facilities Management and Engineering will be at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express, 409 E. Missouri in Downtown El Paso.

The planned fence would be behind Old Fort Bliss and where conquistador Don Juan de Oñate is thought to have crossed the Rio Grande at "El Paso del Rio del Norte" in 1598.

"The project will be constructed in the only remaining section of the border in El Paso that does not have a pedestrian fence installed," CBP materials stated. "The fence will reduce illegal cross-border activities in this heavily travelled area of the city."

CBP said the 0.63-mile fence would connect to steel-mesh fencing already along the Rio Grande to the west near Asarco and to the east to the Downtown. The planned fence and an access road would be built in the spring.

The planned fence, named segment K-1B, would be next to the American Canal on U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission land and some private property. Officials said parts of the fence would be removable to allow access to the canal.

In 2008, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security issued a waiver of many environmental laws to speed up the construction of border fences, CBP officials said.Ê

Critics of the so-called border wall argue that the barrier is costly, conveys a hostile message and pushes illegal immigration to remote and dangerous locations.

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