Texas

This Texas lawmaker is pushing back against President Trump’s border wall

Trump on immigration: ‘We want very tight, very strict borders’

President Donald Trump tells a Columbia, S.C. crowd that "Democrats want open borders' and "We want very tight, strict borders" while talking about building a wall on the border with Mexico.
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President Donald Trump tells a Columbia, S.C. crowd that "Democrats want open borders' and "We want very tight, strict borders" while talking about building a wall on the border with Mexico.

It’s miles from the border, but the battle over President Trump’s border wall is ramping up in San Antonio.

First the president named San Antonio, about 150 miles north of the Texas-Mexico border, as a city where a border wall has worked.

Now a state representative in that city — home to the often recalled battle cry of “Remember the Alamo” — is coming out against Trump’s proposed border barrier.

State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, on Wednesday filed a bill to determine what environmental impacts such a wall could bring to the southern part of the state.

The Rio Grande Floodplain is home to several towns that have seen devastating damage from record breaking floods recently, something that a border wall would only make worse,” Gutierrez, who filed House Bill 990, wrote in a statement.

Between environmental concerns and property rights, Gutierrez said state lawmakers should take this chance to stand up and protect Texas property owners.

“Taking thousands of acres from Texas farmers and ranchers while cutting off communities from their own water supply just doesn’t make sense,” he said. “We have a chance to be the first state Legislature to stand up to the federal government’s unprecedented land grab and we should take it.”

State Rep. Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth, said he believes this bill is the right thing to do and hopes it becomes law.

“The people of Texas deserve to know what the wall will really cost and do,” he said. “Is the government going to be void of any sort of civil remedy to the land owners? This is only asking for a study.

“It shouldn’t be a political issue.”

All this comes as Congress gears up for another vote on whether to give Trump money to build a border wall.

The U.S. Senate plans to take two votes Thursday on proposals to end the government shutdown: one supported by Democrats doesn’t provide funding for a wall and one backed by Republicans does.

Trump talks

Trump earlier this month linked the border wall and San Antonio, where there is no wall.

“Everybody knows that walls work. You look at different places, they put up a wall, no problem,” Trump said. “You look at San Antonio, you look at so many different places, they go from one of the most unsafe cities in the country to one of the safest cities, immediately, immediately.”

In San Antonio, at least one resident wants to lead a search party on May 5 — Cinco de Mayo — to go look “for the nonexistent wall,” the San Antonio Express News reported.

“We as San Antonians deserve to know where this wall is at and deserve some answers,” Manuel Lopez Jr. posted on Facebook.

Environmental impact

Under Gutierrez’s bill, the work would be done by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Water Development Board.

The findings would be due to the state by March 1, 2020.

And the results, Gutierrez said, will “determine if the state of Texas will file suit against the federal government” to stop construction or change the design of the wall.

If this bill passes the Legislature, it would go into effect Sept. 1.

In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, President Trump made the case for border wall funding on Jan. 8. He said the only solution for the government shutdown to end “is for democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders.”

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.

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