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05/20/2009

Lawsuit Fails to Halt Borderwall Construction

This past Monday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. threw out a lawsuit that would have halted the construction of portions of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.  The suit was filed by a coalition of border mayors, community leaders, and business leaders called the Texas Border Coalition against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton defended his decision to throw out the case by claiming that the coalition's members were not the affected property owners.

This is an unfortunate decision that brings the government one step closer towards completing the planned 670 miles of barriers along the southwest border.  Approximately 625 miles have been completed to date and the rest will likely be finished this year.  Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano has already indicated that DHS will continue with the project as planned.  Of course, the effects of the border wall are not limited to those people that physically own property along the border.  The wall has torn apart families and communities, caused extensive flooding, and fragmented sensitive wildlife corridors and wilderness areas.  In the process, border wall construction has squandered billions of dollars of taxpayer money on an effort that has been cynically described by border patrol agents as a "speed bump in the desert."

Even if the 670 miles of wall are finished, critical issues related to the border wall will remain.  For example, how will we fully mitigate the damage done to wildlife habitat and water quality?  What about the impacts to communities on both sides of the border?   And what will we do about the unprecedented authority that has been granted the Secretary of Homeland Security--and unelected official, mind you--to waive any local, state, or federal law in the name of expediting construction of infrastructure along our borders?  Former Homeland Security Michael Chertoff exercised this authority four times, most notoriously on April Fools Day in 2008.  As a result, over 470 miles of border walls were constructed without consideration of landmark laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other laws designed to protect cultural values and religious freedom.

Despite her stated intentions to finish constructing the border wall, there is still a lot that Secretary  Napolitano can do to reinstate the rule of law and help restore the cultural and natural resource values along the borderlands.  You can send a message to Secretary Napolitano here.

Click here to be connected to your representative and urge them to co-sponsor Representative Grijalva's Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009.

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