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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Barrio Residents Oppose Aerial Herbicide Plan to Clear Border

LAREDO, Texas (CN) - A coalition of Hispanic residents of two barrios in Laredo are challenging the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's plan to remove Carrizo cane from the banks of the Rio Grande River by spraying herbicide from helicopters. Barrio De Colores claims the environmentally hazardous "pilot project" is part of an effort to clear the view of the U.S.-Mexican border so that agents can stop more people from entering the country illegally.

Barrio De Colores, an association of Hispanic residents from Barrio De Colores and Barrio El Cuatro, claim the government failed to adequately assess and disclose the environmental impacts of its "experimental" project to remove Carrizo cane along a 16-mile stretch of the Rio Grande. The plan allegedly involves four basic methods of removal: spraying herbicide from helicopters, physically removing the cane with hand tools or machines, cutting the stalks and burning them. All but the mechanical method require the use of herbicide to deter regrowth, the plaintiff claims.

The coalition says the government needs to take a "hard look" at how aerial herbicide could impact the quality of human life in nearby towns and barrios, where the chemicals are likely to drift. Customs and Border Protection allegedly posted a single-day public notice of the pilot project in English, a language many of the plaintiff's members cannot read.

Barrio De Colores seeks an injunction halting the Carrizo cane removal and control project until Customs and Border Protection reassesses the environmental impacts and affords the public a more adequate opportunity to participate in the review process.

Filing counsel is Israel Reyna.

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