Critics Oppose Border Patrol Herbicide Plan

HOUSTON (AP) _ As the Border Patrol gets ready to start poisoning vegetation along a one-mile stretch of Rio Grande riverbank on the U.S.-Mexican border, critics are raising concerns.

They point out that the spraying will take place near the cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Mexican officials are afraid that the herbicide could threaten the water supply. And some opponents compare the project to the use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War to clear away foliage.

The goal in this case is to get rid of hiding places used by illegal immigrants and smugglers. If the pilot project is successful, it could be expanded along as much as 130 miles of river. The Border Patrol says it's trying to keep its agents safe and make their jobs easier. And officials say the herbicide that is being used is safe for animals.