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Thursday, August 14, 2008
"PETA wants to advertise vegan message on border fence"
by the Houston Chronicle
While many view the contentious border fence as a government fiasco, an animal rights group sees a rare opportunity.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.
The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: "If the Border Patrol Doesn't Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan."
"We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables," said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA's vegan campaigns.
The Department of Homeland Security is working to meet a deadline to complete 670 miles of fencing and other barriers on the Southwest border by Dec. 31. The fencing operation has run into stiff opposition by landowners fighting government efforts to obtain their land through condemnation.
PETA says its billboards would picture "fit and trim" Mexicans in their own country, where their diet is more in line with the group's mission. Another image on the sign would portray obese American children and adults "gorging on meaty, fat- and cholesterol-packed American food."
PETA'S offer to the feds is expected to arrive in a letter to Border Patrol officials today.
But a government spokesman in Washington said the request will be rejected because it would limit visibility through the fence. And Border Patrol does not allow advertising on its property or installations, the officials added.
"The fencing being put in place is, in many cases, mesh fencing to allow our officers to see what's happening on the other side and to better secure the border," said Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
One property owner on the Texas-Mexico border laughed at PETA's proposal.
"I think it's ridiculous," said Noel Benavides, who is contesting the construction of a fence dividing his family's 145-acre ranch in Roma on the Rio Grande. "I can't see the point of something like that."
But Rajt said the rent money they'd pay would help offset the huge costs of the fencing — and the advertising message "might even be frightening enough to deter people from crossing into the U.S."
PETA has often been criticized for its aggressive animal rights crusades. It's used billboards to push many of its controversial positions such as "Buck Cruelty: Say NO to horse-drawn carriage rides" or "Feeding Kids Meat Is Child Abuse."
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