In just 48 seconds, the viral video Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) released Friday completely debunks President Trump’s proposal to build a border wall.
In fact, O’Rourke — who became a national figure during his Senate campaign against Ted Cruz (R-TX) — focuses much of his video on one of the most devastating arguments against the wall that gets far too little attention. It’s a terrible idea to build a wall next to a major river like the Rio Grande.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) December 28, 2018
Obviously, you can’t put the wall adjacent to a huge river that increasingly floods. So you have to put it a significant distance from the river.
But that means the border would, as O’Rourke points out:
- “Block access to the Rio Grande River, the 4th longest river in North America”
- “Seize land from Americans through eminent domain”
- “Exile hundreds of thousands of acres of the U.S. to a no mans land between the river and the wall”
- “Seal off critical wildlife corridors” and
- “Destroy YOUR public lands.”
The problem is that the vast majority of the U.S.-Mexico border that does not already have a wall runs straight down the middle of 1,254 snaking miles of the Rio Grande River. So, as ThinkProgress reported in April 2017, ever-worsening, climate change-fueled floods greatly complicate any plausible design.
For instance, in May 2015, more than 35 trillion gallons of water deluged the state. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was forced to declare a state of disaster in 46 counties — in his words, “literally from the Red River to the Rio Grande.”
NOAA reported that in some areas, the May 2015 deluge was “greater than a 1-in-1000 year event.”
But just two years later, Hurricane Harvey delivered a stunning, once-in-25,000-year deluge over much of southeast Texas.
How do you design a wall that could withstand such superstorms — especially when your administration denies the science of human-caused climate change in the first place and has issued orders not to plan for it?
And where exactly do you build a wall when floods along the Rio Grande can be so huge they can be seen from outer space — as in the case of the monster floods of September 2008, captured by NASA’s Terra satellite?
Nonetheless, the president is currently shutting down much of the federal government because Congress refuses to throw billions of taxpayer dollars at this ill-formed plan.