Native Americans oppose U.S.-México border wall

If a wall is built along the border between the United States and México, it could run through Eloisa García Támez's backyard.

"People are being personally impacted by this wall," said Támez, a member of the Lipan Apache tribe who lives in the border community of El Calaboz Ranchería in Texas.

To demonstrate their opposition to the border wall, Támez and other members of the Lipan Apache Women Defense sent on Dec. 20 a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, urging him to halt the construction of the border wall, stop the seizure of properties along the border, and uphold and respect the rights of indigenous people.

Stopping the construction of the wall, is "my hope. That is our priority," Támez said. She also asked Obama to use his, "presidential authority to review this matter and come up with an alternative that will be of benefit to all of us."

The border wall and its effects on low-income communities were discussed during a Dec. 23 telephonic press conference.

"This wall is more of a political action as opposed to an actual security necessity," Christopher Scherer, a staff attorney with the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, said during the press conference.

He said he hopes the Obama administration will reassess the construction of the wall and consider whether "the impact of the wall on the local communities is worth the minimal, if any, national security benefit a border fence would create."

The proposed wall would run mainly through lower income communities, according to Jeff Wilson, an assistant professor of environmental science at University of Texas-Brownsville.

Wilson said he has used census data to compare communities that will be affected by the wall, and areas where the wall will not be built. He said he has determined that there is a "statistically significant difference in the areas where there is a fence and where there is a gap."

Wilson said the proposed fence would run through areas that are mostly inhabited by foreign born, lower income people who tend to be less educated and speak Spanish. He said there is one notable gap in the fence, at the site of a resort that is popular with people who are more affluent and educated.

Wilson said he is calling on the Obama administration to conduct a full investigation into "how marginalized groups are disproportionally affected" by the proposed border wall.

Margo Támez, co-founder of the Lipan Apache Women Defense, said the wall would affect indigenous peoples' properties as well as their culture and their rights. She said indigenous people and their ancestors have depended on the land for water and minerals for many years.

"We belong in these lands and these lands belong to us," Margo Támez said. "Our very health as independent people depend on the elements of this land."

"The indigenous peoples' communal life ways are being radically and violently altered, and that is a human rights issue," she said.

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Tribus contra muro

Si se construye un muro en la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México, podría correr por la yarda de Eloisa García Támez.

"Gente va a ser personalmente impactada por este muro," dijo Támez, quien vive en la comunidad fronteriza de El Calaboz Ranchería.

Para mostrar su oposición al muro, Támez y otros integrantes del Lipan Apache Women Defense mandaron una carta el 20 de diciembre al presidente-electo Barack Obama, pidiéndole parar la construcción del muro, parar la confiscación de propiedad en la frontera, y respetar los derechos de los indígenas.

Parar la construcción del muro "es mi esperanza. Éso es nuestra prioridad," dijo Támez. Ella también le pidió a Obama que usara su "autoridad presidencial para revisar este asunto y buscar una alternativa que nos va a benificiar a todos nosostros."