The U.S. Border Patrol this week has begun poisoning vegetation along the Rio Grande riverbank in Texas – a move that makes little sense environmentally or economically.
If smugglers and illegal immigrants are hiding in dense foliage there, then by all means eradicate the flora.
But why not do so with manual labor, which is faster and far more effective than herbicide?
As any gardener knows, pulling weeds and other plants out by the roots is a sure way to eliminate them. And with unemployment skyrocketing during this recession, the Border Patrol could hire Americans to do this work, thus providing at least temporary jobs.
Of equal importance is the danger to the Rio Grande and any other river where the Border Patrol may decide to apply poisons.
The chemicals being used have been compared by some environmental activists to Agent Orange, the defoliant used widely during the Vietnam War but now blamed for seriously sickening thousands of soldiers, even causing the deaths of many.
If the Border Patrol’s herbicide is remotely as dangerous, it should not be used. The health of the river, the region and of Border Patrol agents themselves could be jeopardized by this clumsy move.
The Laredo (Texas) City Council, as well as officials in adjacent Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, oppose this $2.1 million pilot project – and so do we.
It’s a terrible precedent that likely will cause far more harm than good. Buy some Weed Eaters and hire some workers. But pack away that poison.