Letters to the editor: March 9, 2018

    10:51 a.m. Thursday, March 8, 2018 Opinion
Nick Wagner

Re: Feb. 25 article, “Amid privacy concerns, ‘virtual’ wall brings powerful spy tech to border.”

Taxpayers seem to very worried recently about the financial drain of undocumented immigrants, who do not qualify for most federally funded safety net programs — like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Affordable Care Act — pay billions of dollars annually in payroll and sales taxes, and invest in the economy through their consumption of goods and services.

In contrast to their economic contributions, the United States has allocated billions of dollars towards border patrol. A similar “virtual fence” project was attempted in 2005, and it cost $1 billion before being terminated for being too inefficient and costly.

The combined budget of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement was $19.3 billion in 2016, and now the government is trying to add even more costly expenditures to immigration enforcement. The undocumented immigrants are not draining the taxpayer’s money; the federal government is by insisting to keep them out.


Re: Feb. 25 article, “Advocates join effort to fix Austin police DNA lab problems.”

Investigating how the DNA lab in Austin mishandled evidence is critical. For some, it is quite literally a life or death matter. Of the nearly 2,000 cases, 116 were flagged for possible innocence or scientific review. Convicting one person for a crime they did not commit is appalling, let alone 116. Why weren’t more safeguards put in place to protect these individuals?

Even though the article addressed methods that will be utilized to prevent future mishandling of DNA evidence, it failed to mention a critical piece: How can we rectify the damage that’s already been done to the wrongfully convicted? We need to help them reintegrate into society. Until this is addressed, the legal system is skirting around the issue.


Re: March 2 article, “Five things to know as Texas celebrates its 182nd anniversary.”

This Tejano truly loves this memorable historical day in a certain way, since it involved my Mexican ancestors and Tejas. Research joyfully and sadly tells me of the Placido Benavides family and others who defended their “patria” against Santa Anna’s wrongdoings. After the revolution, the Benavides clan was forced out of Texas.

I now pray that the streets with Hispanic surnames in my Austin do not follow the pattern of the Confederate ordeal that’s taking place — and there are no undeserved name changes.


Conservatives often like to divide “rights” into positive and negative rights. A negative right is freedom from something; a positive right is the right to something. The right says all positive rights are enslaving, as they mandate someone provide said physical manifestation of such “rights.”

This leads to absurdities, such as Rand Paul claiming a right to health care enslaves doctors. If this is true, the “right’ to own property is also suspect. Without the police, courts and laws, our “right” to property is merely the natural law right of self-defense. To a true libertarian, all one should need is your guns and dogs to keep property. No need for a nanny state.

By Sen. Paul’s logic, it enslaves the police to help you get stolen property back or catch who stole it. Yes, we do have a right to health care and it is no different than other ‘rights’ we take for granted.


I am urging our elected officials in Congress to support funding for gun violence research.

For more than two decades, our government has failed to provide dedicated funding for gun violence research, one of the leading causes of death in America. Limiting our understanding of gun violence prevents us from enacting policies based on sound evidence that will protect our lives and communities.

We need to know what policies and methods work to prevent access to guns by those who would harm themselves or others. We must enact evidence-based policy to combat the gun violence epidemic and save tens of thousands of lives each year — and I urge them to fund the research we need to craft it.


There is a lot of controversy over arming teachers or having armed guards in schools.

The advantage of arming willing and trained teachers is the element of surprise. The armed guards would be very obvious; they would certainly be very visible to the intruder and thus could be avoided. An armed teacher would not be obvious — and thus a shooter would be vulnerable. That alone could deter attacks.


Our basic right to life and liberty is being stolen by civilians with assault weapons. Must we “harden” our schools to protect ourselves from gun violence? Do we really have to give up our freedom to protect our self from assault with weapons of mass destruction?

We rail against governments that use weapons of mass destruction on their own people, yet protect the rights of civilians to do the same thing to our own people. Laws cannot totally stop criminals or mentally ill people from doing evil things. But knives and guns with few bullets do not result in mass destruction. Assault style weapons do.

It is time to stop hiding behind phrases like, “Guns don’t kill people,” “slippery slope,” and “They want to take away our guns” — and ask, “Do we really want to live this way?”