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‘Technically, we’re in the United States’
December 30, 2011 1:38 PM   Subscribe

The Americans who live on the "Mexican" side of the border fence in Texas face unusual hardships.
posted by reenum (62 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus, we spent 4.3 billion dollars on that fucking fence?
posted by graventy at 1:47 PM on December 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had no idea. What a debacle.
posted by sklero at 1:51 PM on December 30, 2011


The fence has always been an incredibly stupid, short-sighted measure designed for the sole purpose of pandering to the Republican's stupid, short-sighted base. It comes as no surprise to me at all that there are grave implementation problems with that thing.
posted by JHarris at 1:57 PM on December 30, 2011 [39 favorites]


I believe this is a double from a few months ago. This woman's house isn't only on the wrong side of the fence it's also on the wrong side of a levee.
posted by wcfields at 2:04 PM on December 30, 2011


I was actually picturing some KBR built concrete monstrosity resembling Hitler's atlantic defenses... that looks a bit rubbish by comparison.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Could the rest of us declare a "War on Stupidity"? We know it wouldn't be a real war and we wouldn't do the stupid things that the other 'Wars" have tried, but perhaps it might make a point? And it might just embarrass 'them' just a bit?
posted by sammyo at 2:05 PM on December 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


“Mr Obama – tear down this wall!
posted by koeselitz at 2:06 PM on December 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


This woman's house isn't only on the wrong side of the fence it's also on the wrong side of a levee.

By definition, it has to be. There's a long standing treaty with Mexico that no fence can be built in the Rio Grande floodplain. As a result, the gummint has been building the fence on the dykes.

I found the fence on Google Maps, the arrow should be on the gate that allows access to the golf course. Not seeing it on street view anywhere.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:08 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


If videogames have taught me anything, it's that they need to build a winding maze leading up to that gate and put some Slow towers near it.
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on December 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


Looking at the map, I think... what a strange place for a golf course!
posted by gilrain at 2:13 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mister Fabulous: "As a result, the gummint has been building the fence on the dykes."

Didn't Robin Williams do a skit about this in the eighties?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:19 PM on December 30, 2011


That sign at the bottom saying "we need representation and protection" right next to " don't mess with Texas" is surreal.
posted by c13 at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those people should just move... away from Texas.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:27 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


TBH They sound like they fit right in.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well if they can't sell their houses they might not be able to move.

What a truly fuck-up situation.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:29 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


The unkind part of me wants to know who they voted for for President in 2000 and 2004.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:32 PM on December 30, 2011 [26 favorites]


I assumed that a fence built at the border between USA and Mexico would be...on the border-- not some distance away leaving home owners in No Man's Land. Of course the whole idea of a fence is insane and reminds me too much of the Palestinian/Israel fence, the East/West German fence and the North/South Korea fence.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:35 PM on December 30, 2011


Republican logic:

Mandating national health insurance = the second coming of Adolph Hitler, but seizing citizens' land through eminent domain to build a fence that essentially places American citizens in Mexico is okeyfuckingdokey.

The stupidity is astounding.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:36 PM on December 30, 2011 [45 favorites]


The unkind part of me wants to know who they voted for for President in 2000 and 2004.

Classy. Maybe you already knew that the county went to Obama in 2008, for all the good it did them.
posted by Roman Graves at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


I feel for them, but there really should not have been development (a golf course?) in the floodplain of the Rio Grande. the Clean Water Act has restrictions against it.
posted by eustatic at 2:48 PM on December 30, 2011


That sign at the bottom saying "we need representation and protection" right next to " don't mess with Texas" is surreal.

The one that says "Please...don't mess with Texas with an unnecessary border fence", you mean? I don't think that's very surreal.
posted by Roman Graves at 2:56 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"A few years later, she found 40 kilos of marijuana hidden in her bougainvilleas."

Well, it hasn't been all bad then!
posted by mikeand1 at 3:00 PM on December 30, 2011 [20 favorites]


I don't think that's very surreal.

Especially considering "Don't Mess With Texas" started as an anti-littering campaign (and is trademarked by TXDOT, according to wikipedia).

Honestly the fence is less ugly than I expected, but it's still not exactly a beautifying feature.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:01 PM on December 30, 2011


I like the part where the English-born citizen who got naturalized is south of a border fence that keeps out desparate families, essentially banishing her to Mexico, and she happily rats out teenagers and others seeking sanctuary on a run for their lives.
posted by jscott at 3:14 PM on December 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


MattMangels: “And why would it not be 'classy' to call these people out on their potential hypocrisy?”

"Potential hypocrisy?" As in, you're not sure they're necessarily hypocrites, but just in case you want to call them out anyway?
posted by koeselitz at 3:15 PM on December 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Those people should just move... away from Texas.

While usually well intentioned, I really wish I could take this mindset to a scenic riverbank, enjoy a nice little picnic and then drown it.
posted by byanyothername at 3:15 PM on December 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


What, byanyothername, are you implying people can't just uproot themselves and scuttle off to another area on a whim? There may be financial or social reasons keeping them there? That's patently absurd.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:17 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course I don't know how any particular person voted, but it's so very tiring when non-Texans assume that every person in Texas votes Republican and then whines about the consequences. Last time I checked, pretty much the entire stretch of the border from El Paso to just short of Corpus Christi trends blue, not to mention most of the counties between the border and San Antonio.

TL;DR: contrary to popular belief, Travis County (where Austin is) is not the only home of Democrats in Texas.
posted by muddgirl at 3:22 PM on December 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


The article stated Mrs. Tamez's land has been in her family since the 18th century. To suggest that she should simply move is beyond insulting. This all just highlights the utter stupidity of the fence and of all the people pushing it.
posted by zomg at 3:27 PM on December 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


The unkind part of me wants to know who they voted for for President in 2000 and 2004.

Well, the anti-immigration immigrant English lady can go fuck herself, would be my feeling. We see a lot of that sort in New Zealand, as well - post-War Poms who came out here and then spend all their time whining the country's full of "bloody Maoris" and "why are they letting all these bloody Asians in".

The article stated Mrs. Tamez's land has been in her family since the 18th century.

She didn't move over the border, the border moved over her.
posted by rodgerd at 3:41 PM on December 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


In Communist Russia, the border moves over you oh what a minute.
posted by Foam Pants at 3:45 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel for them, but there really should not have been development (a golf course?) in the floodplain of the Rio Grande. the Clean Water Act has restrictions against it.

not sure what the clean water act has to say but generally golf courses are considered a good use for floodplains.

... and she happily rats out teenagers and others seeking sanctuary on a run for their lives.

she's calling the cops on people who are committing criminal acts in her neighborhood. and it seems to me they're running to an economic opportunity, not running from persecution.
posted by lester at 4:02 PM on December 30, 2011


Well, I admit that it's not the best part of me. And yes, I'm speculating based on little evidence that these people helped get George Bush into the White House. So apologies to muddgirl (and other southerners) for my ugly prejudices. I'm working on it.

I think this was kicked off by recent stories of how the Canada Oil Sands issue is becoming a political football. By all accounts these are a horribly polluting source of energy, but the Republicans are trying to get us to spend our resources developing them (and their pipeline) rather than greener energy technologies. I just get in a "Let 'em fuck it all up and suffer the consequences" state of mind. That's what's behind my statement.

Matt, you're probably being sarcastic when you say you don't know about the South, but as another big-city liberal (heck, more like socialist) I've realized that I actually don't know that much. I've still got a bucket-load of anger for people who inflicted Bush on us for eight years, but to generalize by geography is about as foolish as generalizing by race or gender.

Seriously, though, Roman, when you say
Maybe you already knew that the county went to Obama in 2008, for all the good it did them.
it seems to me that Obama isn't working the our-borders-are-under-attack fear thing that lead to this foolishness like Bush did, so it seems it has done us some good.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:23 PM on December 30, 2011


I like the part where the English-born citizen who got naturalized is south of a border fence that keeps out desparate families, essentially banishing her to Mexico, and she happily rats out teenagers and others seeking sanctuary on a run for their lives.

Hey now! She worked hard for her citizenship by marriage, for which the War Brides Acts of 1945 was specifically passed to ease the restrictions on her entry.
posted by Jehan at 4:26 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


(un)Fortunately, due to "harsh political realities" we're not going to do anything about climate change, so this whole area will probably be uninhabitable within a decade or so, rendering the whole thing moot.

(By the way, does it drive anyone else insane when people say "mute" when they mean "moot?")
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:27 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


That safety net collapses pretty fast when the people in question didn't agree with you all along, huh?

I'm being honest here Roman, I really don't know what this is supposed to mean. And yeah, in my previous post I was generalizing, but only because Texas is a GOP stronghold and there is a very, very good chance that they are Republicans. I suspect the county went to Obama in 08 because of the Latino population.

she happily rats out teenagers and others seeking sanctuary on a run for their lives.

But at least she didn't say mean (and true) things about GOP voters on the internet!

Now, do I think a majority of GOP voters are bad people? I can only speak to my personal experience but many of the ones that I know are otherwise good people, and I believe they are brainwashed/have strong tribal allegiances/they just don't know any better. Now, if it were the odd time now and then that they voted for monsters who destroy the country and their own economic well-being, I could forgive that. We all make mistakes. But to do it year after year after empire-crumbling year, well, I kind of start to get angry. Sorry if any feelings were hurt, but I stand by what I said.
posted by MattMangels at 4:34 PM on December 30, 2011


1. It doesn't matter who they voted for. I voted for Obama, but I still get to disagree with his actions. 2. Texas is very blue from San Antonio on down. They is only an extremely slim chance that the majority of people caught between the Rio Grande and the fence voted for Bush. 3. It doesn't matter who they voted for.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:46 PM on December 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


The border region is getting progressively more dangerous and is unlikely to get better in the near future. It's a pity that the fence has undoubtedly shot their property values to hell, but getting out of there probably is in these people's best interest (and would be even without the fence).
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:48 PM on December 30, 2011


Could the rest of us declare a "War on Stupidity"?

Remember the Alamo.
posted by bpm140 at 4:50 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


only because Texas is a GOP stronghold and there is a very, very good chance that they are Republicans

McCain got 55% of the vote with 4,467,748 people, while Obama received 44% and 3,521,164 people.

3.5 million people. In Texas. Voted Democrat in 2008. McCain didn't even get a super-majority. That means that there is not a very, very good chance they were Republicans, especially as her county went Democrat.

If you met a random Texan on the road, they would be slightly more likely to be Republican rather than Democrat. As in just over 50%. Out of a group of four random people, two of them would still probably be Democrats.

That means that statistically your statement makes no sense. It's silly and demeaning. BUT EVEN IF statistics were on your side, it'd still be a pretty crappy way to dismiss a problem because, hey, they probably deserve it anyway. It's a just world.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:53 PM on December 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


> she happily rats out teenagers and others seeking sanctuary on a run for their lives

According to her, the teenagers were traffickers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:01 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the fence is a big stupid expensive waste of money but when the government seized the land for the fence they might as well taken all the land between the fence and the river and get it over with. It didn't make it any better the government only stole part of their land. And the next time the herp derp build the wall shouting gets loud again, they'll add a second fence like they have on the Tijuana/San Diego border.

The article stated Mrs. Tamez's land has been in her family since the 18th century.

Which means it was New Spain originally. Then Mexico. NEVER THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS. Finally, the US. The Rio Bravo/Rio Grande border didn't happen until the Treaty of Guadalupe in 1848 (the land between the Rio Grande and Rio Nueces were in dispute before the Mexican-American War. If the US decided to keep the Nueces as the border, she wouldn't have had to worry about her land getting cut up for a border fence because her property would have been deep inside Mexico. Corpus Christi, Texas would be the border town.

If you met a random Texan on the road, they would be slightly more likely to be Republican rather than Democrat. As in just over 50%. Out of a group of four random people, two of them would still probably be Democrats.

The politics of the border are complex. The border counties go democratic party. Nearly 90% of the population in those counties are Latino. The landowners (who probably first got their land in a grant from Mexico waaaay back in the day and were ranchers. Some of these ranchers are white and identify more with the GOP. But on your "random Texan on the road", south of San Antonio they'll be more likely to be Democrats. But it doesn't matter because the politics of the border are complex.
posted by birdherder at 5:04 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel for them, but there really should not have been development (a golf course?) in the floodplain of the Rio Grande. the Clean Water Act has restrictions against it.

Cite? Looks more like that falls under FEMA rules deriving from a Carter Executive Order, and in any event, I bet (from the aerial view) it's actually in the flood fringe, which news stories routinely conflate with the flood plain. Whole world of allowed uses in that case. The point of the rules is to avoid big permanent structures like factories and houses that people won't buy insurance for and thus fall back on FEMA rebuilding monies after it inevitably gets swept away.

(We just went through this, two years running, in my city. It took almost three years for some people to finally accept the buyout money and let the city turn their lots into parkland.)

Anyway, it seems to have been allowed under the treaty, which explicitly controls the Rio Grande flood plain.

The government didn't offer to buy the land it walled off from the rest of Texas, or to compensate people for the subsequent devaluation.

This surprised me more than anything. This is such a Republican project, and yet I thought they would remember when the concept of government "takings" was at the top of their hit list. But I guess with Kelo, that's all moot, even for right-wing projects.

It didn't make it any better the government only stole part of their land.

In a sense, I'd take a "flood plain" approach here. A golf course is actually a good use of the land. Open during the day, lots of use, and illegals probably avoid it. Closed at night, because -- fluorescent balls aside -- golfing at night is stupid. Farmland is probably another use, although like any other it's a bit more difficult to handle, and in contrast to a golf course is explicitly empty of people almost 24/7, so attractive to illegals and smugglers.

Just more data points that even in the context of what it's supposed to do, the fence is stupid.
posted by dhartung at 5:09 PM on December 30, 2011


The unkind part of me wants to know who they voted for for President in 2000 and 2004.

Ok, I have to admit something, I saw the woman's picture in the article and first thought that came to mind wasn't "Typical Texas Republican". I mean, look at her scarf. That just screamed retired Berkeley professor to me. The glasses, the silver jewelry.

So, I actually just Googled her name, because, hey, 21st century and all.

Turns out, Eloisa Garcia Tamez is a Lipan Apache civil-rights leader and prominent critic of the wall.

"In the summer of 1952, she led her community members in a local struggle against the discriminatory effects of the controversial consolidation of Landrum District #3 with the San Benito Independent School District, which would have favored white and elite families and disadvantage the poorer land owners in traditional rancherias"

As much as I sometimes find myself falling for the schadenfreude you pointed out, it shouldn't matter. This wall is going to suck for everyone, except the damn contractors building it and the politicians getting the kickbacks.
posted by formless at 5:31 PM on December 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


For those who want to know more about the differences between how Bush and Obama approached the issue, I thought this episode of Frontline was informative. If you are a podcast kind of person, you can download the audiocast here.

The message I took home was this: Bush built a fence, Obama ramped up deportations. And in spite of being about as liberal as they come, my gut-level emotional reaction is that as bad as the fence is, Obama is responsible for breaking up families.

I'm somewhat sympathetic to the argument that stronger enforcement was a precondition for meaningful immigration reform. But I think it's disingenuous to argue for the practical necessity of political triangulation without also acknowledging its actual effects.
posted by compartment at 5:45 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


We've been through all this argument before, but when I read these articles before I didn't see this picture. Having seen it, I get the impression that the top 6 feet of that fence might be a little tricky, but the whole thing could probably be crossed in 5 minutes by a novice with a 30-foot rope. So now I'm really wondering: how much would, say, a 4' wide section of this cost, if a climbing gym wanted to install it as a gimmick? Based on the article's statistics, this stuff is $1,174.25/ft. installed(!). I'd drop a $4 surcharge on top of gym admission without a second thought. Planet Granite, are you listening?
posted by agentofselection at 6:10 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, hundreds of millions of Americans live south of the fence. Last I checked, Mexico is in the Americas. So is everything south of it.
posted by LonnieK at 6:29 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


This who-votes-what-party in the area derail is bullpucky. The fact of the fence is that there's enough (ignorant and stupid) support nationally for the goddamn thing to get built. As I have said before many times, there are more rednecks in California than there are in Texas, so the whole red-state-blue-state thing is an at-best misleading and at-median useless paradigm. This fence was forced upon the Texans and Chihuahuans and Sonorans and etc. by Ohioans and everyone else.
posted by zomg at 6:36 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the research, formless.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:48 PM on December 30, 2011


[Knock off the asshole talk, go to Metatalk if you need to.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:50 PM on December 30, 2011


> she happily rats out teenagers and others seeking sanctuary on a run for their lives
>>According to her, the teenagers were traffickers.


Yeah, I did not get a Cruella de Ville, "I must destroy these innocent children" vibe from her. In fact, the only smug, judgmental vibe I'm getting here is from the person who said she "happily rats out teenagers...on a run for their lives." To imagine that everybody crossing the border illegally must be a harmless asylum-seeking victim is to reveal a staggering ignorance about the situation unfolding in northern Mexico. Let me just say this: plenty of narcotraficantes are teenagers. Unfortunately, the teenage years are a ripe time to become involved in gangs and organized crime. Moreover, if a bunch of teenagers show up banging on your door after midnight in an area where narcotraficantes operate, it would be far smarter to call the authorities than to tie on an apron and invite them in for cookies and milk. Doing so does not make you someone who "happily rats out teenagers," it makes you a wise and cautious person.
posted by artemisia at 6:53 PM on December 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah it is a double (kinda, as in this topic has been covered), but covered by the Independent UK

here's what I said then:
I think this might be either her house or someone in a similar situation. Wrong side of the border not for nothing, but

this corner of south-eastern Texas had its barrier constructed on a levee that follows a straight line from half a mile to two miles north of the river, leaving Ms Taylor's bungalow – along with the homes and land of dozens of her angry neighbours – marooned on the Mexican side.
posted by wcfields at 7:33 PM on December 30, 2011


agentofselection that fence looks easily climbable, with no gear except for soft, tight shoes.

but I'd probably have to be drunk to try.

/ R U?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:06 PM on December 30, 2011


LonnieK: "Actually, hundreds of millions of Americans live south of the fence. Last I checked, Mexico is in the Americas. So is everything south of it."

Do we really have to go through this again? In American English, "American" refers to a citizen of the nation of the United States of America, which is located on the continent of North America. In American English, there is no continent of "America" — the usage is not coming from an attitude of "this continent is ours and we're gonna remind you of that every time we refer to our country", it's because there is no larger area that we know as "America". In American English, when speaking of the whole, combined land mass/es, the term "the Americas" is used.

People who think "American" is arrogant often push terms like "USian" as a replacement. Problem is, there's already another nation called the United States — los Estados Unidos de Mexico. The only other geopolitical entity with "America" in its name that did or does exist seems to be the United Provinces of Central America, which hasn't been around since 1841.

ReturningTFA:

Taylor says she had to work hard to get her citizenship when she married an American soldier and moved to Texas from England after World War II. She doesn't think illegal immigrants should get a chance to become citizens. "If anything comes really easy, it's not appreciated," she said.

I think this woman has very little understanding of what the average undocumented immigrant's experience is like if "really easy" seems at all reasonable as a description.
posted by Lexica at 9:06 PM on December 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


LonnieK: Actually, hundreds of millions of Americans live south of the fence. Last I checked, Mexico is in the Americas. So is everything south of it.

Did anyone not know which America he was referring to? Anyone at all?

...

I guess it was pretty obvious from context. Well, unless you were deliberately ignoring it. But that would cause all kinds of problems in everyday communication, so why would anyone ever do that?
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:21 PM on December 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


You mean it only walls off part of Texas? I officially withdraw my support for the wall.
posted by GIFtheory at 9:59 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


We see a lot of that sort in New Zealand, as well - post-War Poms who came out here and then spend all their time whining the country's full of "bloody Maoris" and "why are they letting all these bloody Asians in".

Weird, I didn't see that even once in all of the 36 years I lived in NZ. I moved around a bit and worked with all kinds of people too.
posted by shelleycat at 3:31 AM on December 31, 2011


Bad enough they are inept, but cheap too? FFS just take the hit and buy the poor bastards out.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:46 AM on December 31, 2011


Weird, I didn't see that even once in all of the 36 years I lived in NZ.

Well, I met one here in Calgary on Tuesday, only he was on about the Irish. I've met and enjoyed being friends with several folks like this, and their sense of what?... "Western entitlement"? is incomprehensible to me.
posted by sneebler at 10:39 AM on December 31, 2011


On the Canadian border, homeowners build the walls and the government wants them down.

the homeowners in this case are building to keep dogs in the US, not something out. There's a border vista that's supposed to be kept clear of brush and obstructions.
posted by morganw at 1:27 PM on December 31, 2011


That was four years ago, I wonder if the concrete wall is still there.
posted by Mitheral at 7:57 PM on December 31, 2011


Agreement allows Blaine couple to keep disputed wall -- a foregone conclusion since the Bush administration fired Schornack over the issue.

It's apparently here.
posted by dhartung at 9:27 AM on January 1, 2012


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