By Samantha Grasso
As the country nears a government shutdown because several large adult men who get off on depriving migrants of their basic human rights can’t get what they want, one brave soul came forward to the Washington Post to admit that he now regrets his decision to vote for one of those men. No, this turncoat doesn’t so much care about the depriving migrants part so much as he’s worried about the impending destruction of his butterfly sanctuary, which will be basically destroyed by President Donald Trump’s border wall.
In an “as told to” opinion piece the Washington Post ran on Monday, Luciano Guerra, an outreach coordinator and educator for the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX, lamented his decision to vote for Trump in 2016 because the president’s planned border wall would run straight through his butterfly sanctuary near the U.S.-Mexico border:
The first section, funded by Congress in 2018 for construction starting early next year, will cut right through our 100-acre refuge, sealing off 70 acres bordering the banks of the Rio Grande...On the south side of the barrier, flooding will worsen. On the north side, animals (including threatened species like the Texas tortoise and the Texas horned lizard) will be cut off from ranging beyond the wall for feeding and breeding. Flood lighting will disrupt the usual patterns of nocturnal species. We dread the destruction that will come when the bulldozers arrive, which could be as early as February. That loud, heavy machinery will cause irreparable damage to the habitat we’ve worked so hard to restore. Holy shit! That sounds awful! I can’t imagine working so diligently to create this center for wildlife and education only to have it mercilessly torn apart like an immigrant family at the border! But lest you start feeling too much sympathy swell, Guerra described himself as a lifelong Republican who voted for Trump, knowing full well that a border wall was on his list of Ways To Hurt Immigrants and Americans Alike. Alas! If he even had an inkling of an idea that the wildlife sanctuary, 240 species of butterflies and all, would be at jeopardy should Trump be elected president, why would he vote for him?
Ahh, yes, what a familiar tune (with a particularly mind-bending analogy):
People have asked me, “Didn’t you listen to Trump when he said that he would build a wall?” I didn’t take the idea seriously during the campaign. I knew he couldn’t get Mexico to pay it — that’d be like asking Hurricane Harvey to foot the bill for rebuilding Houston — and thought it was just talk: another candidate making big promises he couldn’t keep. I never thought it would actually happen.
Let Guerra be the absolute last person allowed to rationalize voting for Trump because they didn’t think he was going to do the bad things! Sorry, I don’t make the rules!
Guerra, for all his remorse, also doesn’t seem all that worried about the people most affected by Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, writing, “I want our immigration laws to be enforced, and I don’t want open borders,” and not much else on the very real human costs of such a wall. But while Guerra is doing the same old song and dance many a regretful Republican have done before him, I’m still genuinely astonished at the amount of slack Guerra cuts Trump in voting for him, particularly because he acknowledges Trump’s smears are based on lies. He said in the Post:
...Mission is not a dangerous place. I’ve lived here all my life. Here at the National Butterfly Center, 6,000 schoolchildren visit each year. Girl Scouts come here when they camp overnight just a mile or so from the Rio Grande. When the president says there’s a crisis at the border that requires an action as drastic as building a massive concrete wall, he either knows that it’s not true or he’s living in an alternate reality.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, the National Butterfly Center sued the federal government “after contract workers appeared unannounced” on the property in 2017. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing a U.S. District Court judge’s ruling in favor of the government to stand. As a result, the Trump administration gets to bypass more than two dozen federal laws, most of the environmental protections, and bulldozing could start as early as February.
The thing is, I feel very little remorse for Guerra because I deeply feel for the communities that Trump’s border wall will hurt the most. Guerra really doesn’t express concern over the fact that children are dying in federal custody because of Trump’s politics. Close the borders, sure thing, but destroy a butterfly habitat? You’ve gone too far, President Trump!
It’s highly unlikely that Guerra’s impassioned plea to keep the sanctuary intact will move the president, but he says he at least wants to be someone who Tried:
Still, I want to be able to tell my grandchildren and great-grandchildren that I fought against the wall. I worry that, if it goes up, their only experience of the Rio Grande Valley’s natural beauty will be through the photographs that I take today.If Donald Trump runs for a second term, he will not get my vote.
Fool me once!