As President Donald Trump threatens to shut down the U.S. government if congress doesn’t include funding to construct additional walls between the U.S. and Mexico – including 11 miles in Mission – Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas said he plans to support a resolution against building new fencing along the Rio Grande River but not the resolution a citizen’s activist group has submitted.
During the council’s Aug. 14 meeting a group of five area residents submitted a draft resolution titled, “Denouncing the Border Wall,” and asked the mayor and city council to put its adoption on their Aug. 28 council meeting agenda for approval. The resolution seeks to prevent iconic Mission tourist sites, La Lomita Mission, the National Butterfly Center, the National World Birding Center Headquarters and Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park from being isolated from visitors by a border wall or fence.
“Be it resolved that the citizens of Mission, Texas, along with the mayor and city council, expresses its opposition to any border walls built in our county because they would not make us safer but would detract from the economic well being of the county and the quality of life of our residents,” the resolution concludes.
Melinda Melo, an administrative project manager for a Mission medical clinic, said she organized the effort after learning a similar resolution had been passed in Brownsville.
“So I gathered together some people and entities I thought might be influential with the council,” Melo said.
On Tuesday while awaiting a visit to a Mission manufacturing plant from Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Mayor Salinas said he had asked City Manager Martin Garza to draft a resolution that is not as restrictive as the one submitted by Melo’s group. Salinas has stated previously he supports converting earthen levees with their grass covered, sloping berm walls into concrete-lined walls that prevent south to north pedestrian passage from the border that will protect residents against both flooding, undocumented immigrants and drug traffickers while strengthening the levees. But Salinas said he is opposed to the highly visible bollard fencing atop the levees or along the border.
Salinas said he supports a resolution that expresses the city’s concerns saying a presentation on wall plans earlier this month by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Section Chief Manuel Padilla Jr. was “too vague” to be sure exactly what the agency has in mind for the 11 miles of border earmarked for new walls or fencing within the city’s limits. Padilla did not respond to a request for an interview or a copy of the CBP graphic used during the presentation detailing the locations of planned wall construction.
“Mayor Salinas has expressed our concerns for the residents of Chimney Park, La Lomita Chapel, National Butterfly Center, and the World Birding Center at Bentsen State Park,” Garza said Tuesday. “We’re trying to protect our history, our nature, wildlife, our eco-tourism and our economy. So this will help in telling the government where the city of Mission stands.”
The resolution will be presented to the city council at its Aug. 28 meeting that begins at 4:30 p.m. at city hall, 1201 E. 8th Street, Mission.