The mayors of the Texas city of El Paso and the Mexican city
of Juarez led a protest by dozens of people on Saturday
against a planned border wall to stem illegal immigration
The protesters held hands across the Paso del Norte Bridge,
which spans the Rio Grande and connects the downtown cores
of the two cities.
Resentment against the wall runs deep in the border areas of
Texas. Landowners are concerned it may cut across their
property, conservationists see it destroying crucial
riverside habitat, and some activists see it inflaming
El Paso Mayor John Cook and Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia
Lardizabal embraced at the top of the bridge.
"Today is a historic day in the expression of friendship
between two mayors, two cities and two countries. It is
necessary for Washington and Mexico City to understand that
our border doesn't separate us, it joins us," Cook said.
Murguia said the Mexican government had failed its own
people who he said were forced to go north seeking jobs
because of the poverty they faced at home.
John Neck, a resident of border town of Brownsville in the
far southeastern corner of Texas, made the long trek to El
Paso in the west of the state for the event.
"Mexico is the most important country to the United States.
They're not going anywhere ... if we build a wall it will
set back relations with Mexico 100 years, and you can't
blame them, they know what a wall means," said Neck, who
described himself as a fifth-generation Texan.
Supporters of the wall, which is planned to run for hundreds
of miles along the border, argue it is needed to help block
the swelling tide of illegal immigration as well as
widespread drug and gun smuggling.
Officials have said that construction of the Texas portion
of the wall could begin as early as this fall.
But local opposition is rising in border areas which often
have large Latino populations.
Previous protests against the wall on the Rio Grande have
involved flotillas of paddlers. Activists said an anti-wall
rally was also scheduled for later on Saturday in Mission,
on the border in southeast Texas.
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