Border-fence plan could wreak havoc on environment

Congress approved a plan late last week to build a 700-mile-long, two-layer fence along the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to keep out illegal immigrants, eliciting an overwhelmingly negative reaction from environmentalists and, well, folks with a firm grasp on reality. “The fence is a knee-jerk reaction by Congress. No one really studied the economic impacts, the environmental impacts,” says Eddie Aldrete of the Laredo, Texas-based International Bank of Commerce. The fence would disrupt the fragile desert ecosystem, as well as migration routes for scores of species, from snakes to jaguars, critics say. Others worry about private-property and water rights: “A wall is just going to stand between farmers and ranchers and others who need legitimate access to water,” says Republican activist Mike Vickers. Still others find the plan insulting to Mexicans, who share a strong social bond with South Texans and significantly boost the economies of Texas border towns. Oh, and knowledgeable people don’t think it will actually stem illegal immigration.