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South Texans Protest Border Wall’s Likely Impact On Their Economy And The Environment

Rio Grande Valley residents say their economic and health care needs are being ignored in the midst of media attention focused on President Trump’s wall.



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Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)
Protesters gathered at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge to protest the potential environmental risks of building a border wall.

As the border has become a focal point for national debate in recent months, much of that debate has centered around illegal immigration and President Donald Trump's plans for a border wall stretching across the southern U.S. But many residents in Texas' Rio Grande Valley say a whole host of other issues affecting their region isn't receiving the attention it deserves. At two protests last weekend against the wall in Mission, Texas and at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, south Texans tried to call attention to the untold stories.

Meredith Hoffman, a freelance journalist who has written for The Associated Press, The New York Times and Rolling Stone, says area residents want to talk out about economic uncertainty, the potentially devastating loss of health care access and environmental issues, while the media mainly focus on the proposed border wall.

"The border towns in Texas have relied on Mexican shoppers and on Mexican tourists for years," Hoffman says. "Due to talk about the wall and crackdowns on illegal immigration, fewer Mexican shoppers have been crossing to come get goods legally."

Hoffman says environmental concerns related to the border wall include potential harm to endangered species like the ocelot, which calls the wildlife refuge home. She says protesters are also concerned about the liquid natural gas plants set to be built at the Port of Brownsville, which could be harmful to residents and to the shrimping industry.

The Trump administration's attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act is another concern for residents, who say that families with high rates of diabetes rely on government-subsidized health coverage.

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