A package of Texas Observer articles demonstrates the sham of Donald Trump's border wall stance.
Gus Bova's main article reports that construction will begin in February on 33 miles of wall slicing through two Texas counties along the Rio Grande River. Land for the 30-foot-high structure already has been seized through expedited eminent domain, Bova reports Local residents say they have no problems with illegal immigrants crossing the border.
The seizure covers land a Hispanic family has owned since before Texas became a state. Other property includes a state park, a federal wildlife refuge and the national buttterfly center, all of which will be bisected by the wall. Parts of the land will be cut off, and access restricted. Bova reports that 95 percent of the property is privately owned.
The wall will harm rare wildlife species and ruin the river's scenic beauty. While the Rio Grande is reduced to a trickle in some areas, the portion along the new wall has expansive water vistas.
Approved by Congress last March with a $545 million appropriation, the new section of wall adds to the 110 miles already built under the Bush and Obama administrations.
Another Observer article notes that border security is already a multi-billion operation, including an increase in the number of border and ICE agents, observation towers, and Texas enforcement operations. A third article details the civil rights abuses carried out by border agents, who have strayed behind their 100-mile limit in surveillance and apprehension operations.
The Observer's articles show the idiocy of Trump's $5 billion wall request. Despite Trump's delusions, there's no "open border," and the United States is already paying an exorbitant price for "border security," in terms of money, corruption and civil rights abuses.
Relentlessly reporting on Texas politics and culture since the 1950s heyday of Ronnie Dugger and Willie Morris, the Observer keeps producing essential work as local newspapers decline. The New York Times or Washington Post should reprint the Observer's articles or do similar in-depth stories from the border.
Along with the Observer, which keeps producing a monthly print magazine, Texans also receive the benefit of strong reporting from the online Texas Tribune. While the Observer receives some ad support and contributions from nonprofits and readers, the Tribune is funded by a civic-minded wealthy investor.
Another online news site, the Bayou Brief, shines a needed light on Louisiana and Mississippi politics. While the Bayou Brief is welcome, Baton Rouge and New Orleans readers have fairly vital local newspapers, with the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Advocate competing strongly with the New Orleans Times-Picayune and its NOLA web site.
The newspaper industry's decline is troubling for America's endangered democracy, but an increasing number of local news web sites strive to fill the need.