- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Washington Times completely misses the point of the Sierra Club's concerns about overriding environmental laws to build a partial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border (“All the pretty mule deer,” Editorial, April 1). America has a right to enforce its borders, but the wall is an ineffective, expensive and destructive boondoggle. As The Times itself recognizes, “the fence does not run the length of the border and ends at various points.”

The Government Accountability Office reports that the cost of wall construction has jumped from about $3 million per mile to nearly $8 million per mile.

Instead of promoting crime paranoia, remember that former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff put aside nearly 36 laws to expedite border-wall construction. These environmental, historic-preservation, religious-freedom, and farmland-protection laws are part of America's legal framework, and no public official should be allowed to ignore them.

Like half a wall of sandbags that only runs half the length of a town (another metaphor The Times uses), the wall won't resolve security concerns along the border. However, it clearly stops endangered species from accessing their food, water and migratory routes.

Millions of tourism dollars flood the border region annually as visitors enjoy natural resources, historic sites and recreational opportunities. Seizing real land and dividing it with symbolic walls is counterproductive and destructive.

We all have a stake in responsibly securing our borders in a way that respects wildlife and human rights. We can do better than waiving laws, seizing property and destroying communities.

CARL POPE

Sierra Club, Executive Director

San Francisco


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