Will the Feds Spray the Border?

The latest addition to the Border Patrol’s most-wanted list isn’t an illegal immigrant, but a plant.

Well, okay, a plant that could conceal illegal immigrants, the Patrol fears. The plant in question is Carrizo cane, an invasive weed that grows in dense thickets along the border. The Feds’ plan (which, predictably, has drawn some Agent Orange comparisons) was to spray the cane with the herbicide Imazapyr, but not everyone is thrilled about that:

A lawsuit accused the Department of Homeland Security of violating the National Environmental Policy Act regarding the now-delayed U.S. Border Patrol plans to conduct aerial spraying of an herbicide on carrizo (kah-DEE’-zoh) cane near the Rio Grande.

Residents of two Laredo neighborhoods on Tuesday sued DHS in a lawsuit which alleged the public wasn’t sufficiently notified about the spraying program, the Laredo Morning Times reported in a story for Wednesday’s editions.


So the Border Patrol has said it’ll wait to spray:

The Border Patrol agreed to delay aerial spraying of the herbicide, which was set to
begin Wednesday, until more talks were held with Mexican officials on
the possible cross-border impact of such a project.

Since no one knows for sure how the herbicide would affect human health (let alone the 1,000 species in the ecosystem around the cane) I’m hoping more testing happens before spray day. Better yet, we could figure out how to eradicate the cane without chemicals. Luckily, that doesn’t seem too hard:

Earlier this month, about 70 students from Texas A&M International University manually were able to clear about an acre of cane in fewer than three hours.