Environment Loses Big Time to Border Patrol

Border Patrol to poison plant life along the Rio Grande

Border Patrol to poison plant life along the Rio Grande

In yet another effort to cut back on illegal crossings, the US Border Patrol will begin using herbicides to poison plant life along the US-Mexico border.

This pilot program is one of three methods the Border Patrol is testing to eliminate thick stalked carrizo cane which they say smugglers, illegal immigrants and robbers use to hide behind. Teams of agents will also try cutting the plants by hand, then painting the stumps with an herbicide called Imazapyr, and digging them out by their roots.

The most controversial method would be spraying the plants by helicopter with Imazapyr.

Although the EPA and Border Patrol insist the herbicide is safe for animals, Mexican officials are concerned it could threaten the safety of Nuevo Laredo’s  water supply.

This $2.1 million project, if successful across a 1.1 mile stretch of the Rio Grande border, would then be implemented along much of the river’s 130 miles of the Laredo, Texas sector, as well as along other parts of the US-Mexico border.

The U.S. Border Patrol says after spraying, it would then “green” the river’s edge again by planting native plants., naive thinking at best.

Concerned citizen groups are comparing this plan to Vietnam-era use of Agent Orange. Jay Johnson-Castro, Sr. Executive Director of the Rio Grande International Study Center at Laredo Community College, located next to the planned test area, said “it’s unprecedented they do (this) in a populated area.”

Johnson-Castro has no issue about removing the cane, a non-native plant introduced by Spaniards centuries ago, just with the method used.

“It’s complicated,” says Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas. “We have to think about protecting our border.”

“But let’s do it in a sensible way,” he said, to make sure that humans won’t be harmed, nor vegetation (or) animals, nor the environment.”

Sensible words, but it’s unlikely the Border Patrol will go that direction, given it’s penchant for actions that completely disregard environmental concerns and established facts.