In an effort to fight illegal immigration, the United States Border Patrol plans to spray a chemical herbicide on tall plants near the Texas-Mexico border.
The Carrizo cane is an invasive plant that grows up to 30 feet high and provides a cover for illegal border crossers, thieves and smugglers, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Helicopters will spray the plants “until all plant life in the area is poisoned.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Border Patrol say the herbicide imazapyr is safe for animals, but critics say the chemical’s safety is questionable and could threaten the water supply of towns near the river.
Government agents asked Nuevo Laredo’s water utility to turn off their water pumps before the spraying, reports El Paso’s Newspaper Tree.
“If there is no problem, why are they asking us to do this?” the utility’s general manager asked.
Many protesters say the program is reminiscent of the Agent Orange defoliation program from the Vietnam War.
The government will test the herbicide on an area of about one mile between Laredo, Texas and Neuvo Laredo in Mexico.
If the method is approved, the range of spraying will be expanded.
“Border plants to be killed to reveal smugglers”
Houston Chronicle, March 24, 2009
“The border’s ‘Agent Orange’ controversy”
Newspaper Tree, March 21, 2009