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Historians fight against border fence
By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Crews are waiting for the thumbs up to start construction to connect the last remaining half mile gap in the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. It's a project that's expected to start this week and is stirring up a lot of controversy.
This half mile fence will be the final portion of the 652-mile stretch of border fence separating the two countries. But historians are heated because this section of fence would line historic sites that date back to 1598.
The fence would run near the sites of Don Juan De Onate's Rio Grande crossing, Hart's Mill and Old Fort Bliss. It's commonly known as El Paso Del Norte.
"It's a very ancient historic place. It's part of our heritage here in El Paso and the United States," said Bill Addington, a member of the Sierra Club.
"This is our home and we don't believe a wall is accomplishing anything. We call it the 'muro de odio' -- the 'wall of hate,'" said Addington.
Building a border fence is something Addington said he's been protesting for years. Back in 2008, he said he took a four-day march along the border to voice his anger.
"I firmly believe if we want to stop this wall, every United States border representative needs to oppose it, every politician needs to oppose it," said Addington.
Congressman Beto O'Rourke said that's exactly what he's doing.
"I told people up here in Washington it would be like building a fence through Plymouth Rock," said O'Rourke.
O'Rourke's office sent KFOX 14 a number of letters written by O'Rourke, senators and state representatives. All of the letters were opposing the construction project and asking Customs and Border Protection to halt work.
"The United States and Mexico are two countries who are at peace, net migration from Mexico last year was zero, the average number of apprehensions per agents in the El Paso sector per year is under four," said O'Rourke.
O'Rourke said this little stretch of fence will end up costing tax payers an extra $5 million or $6 million. For being the safest city in America, he called this project a waste of tax payer money and Addington agreed.
"Any motivated immigrant that wants over that wall is getting over that wall," said Addington.
KFOX 14 spoke with crews on scene Thursday. While they said work was supposed to begin Wednesday, no construction has been done yet. Crews said that's because controversy in D.C. is holding things up.