Activists, Mayors Protest U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

Sunday, 26 Aug 2007 09:39 PM

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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

into America.

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

ethnic tensions.

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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