Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Isn't The Environment Just A Big Bother?

Today's news brings the word that in order to complete the remaining border fence/wall between the Southwestern US and Mexico, a fence many think will never actually fulfill its proposed mission (We're talking actual fence here, not the "virtual" fence, which the feds themselves already acknowledge is not working.), The Bush administration is proposing to bypass more than thirty environmental and land-management laws and regulations. The area under consideration here is parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas that are home to many threatened species,the endangered jaguar, America's largest native cat, to name just one. Our friends in Congress have granted the waivers to the Department of Homeland Security, to the delight of gun-toting conservatives and the consternation of groups like The Nature Conservancy, Sierra club and Defenders of Wildlife. Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, made the following statement yesterday in response to this decision:
Thanks to this action by the Bush administration, the border is in a sense more lawless now than when Americans first started moving west.

Laws ensuring clean water for us and our children—dismissed. Laws protecting wildlife, land, rivers, streams and places of cultural significance—just a bother to the Bush administration. Laws giving American citizens a voice in the process—gone.
Clearly this is out of control.

It is this kind of absolute disregard for the well-being and concerns of border communities and the welfare of our wildlife and untamed borderlands that has forced Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club to take a stand and say ‘No more!’

Just a few weeks ago we filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to fight the unconstitutional authority the Bush administration has seized to waive any and all laws it views as inconvenient in its rush to build an unpopular, ineffective border wall. Today’s egregious abuse of power is more proof that this cannot be allowed to continue.
Most of the lands where the border fence is being constructed are protected federal lands, National Monuments and Forests containing species that occur nowhere else in the United States. For more from Defenders of Wildlife on the impact of current federal immigration policy on the environment, read this paper, On The Line, about the Arizona borderlands alone.

Crossposted to The Blue Voice



Obeying the law is not voluntary, it is mandatory, and Secretary Chertoff cannot legitimately claim to be sweeping aside a host of laws on the border in defense of immigration laws. In a nation of laws all laws must be respected, not just those that are convenient.

Equal protection under the law is meant to be a fundamental right shared by every American, but the Real ID Act makes the legal rights of citizens who live near the border conditional on Secretary Chertoff’s whims. Section 102 of the Real ID Act of 2005 states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive all legal requirements such Secretary, in such Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.” No one else is granted this extreme power under any circumstance. The President cannot waive our nation’s laws even in times of national crisis, and Secretary Chertoff cannot waive the laws that protect citizens who live away from the border. Only border residents may have their legal protections waived.

The only reason for Secretary Chertoff to waive these laws is because he knows that construction of the border wall will break them. In announcing the Real ID Act waivers Secretary Chertoff said, "Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation." The waivers are an admission that the border wall will itself violate these 36 federal laws, making construction of the wall a criminal act. If Chertoff is genuinely concerned with criminal activity he should ensure that the agency that he oversees complies with the law. Instead, by setting these 36 federal laws aside, Secretary Chertoff sets himself above the law.

Paul said...

Hey old friend...remember Paul, the Belfast Cowboy? I'm still blogging at Brininess and Volubility.Blogspot.

I though of you because I'm going down to Bethany Beach tomorrow. I know you're in NM now, but I remember you from lover, slower DE.

If you like, check in 2 weeks for pix of DE, SCar, and GA.