Resolution - Resolution in Support of The City of El Paso, the Texas Border Coalition, South Texas Landowners and the University of Texas in Brownsville vs. the Homeland Security Administration

WHEREAS, the waiver of environmental laws to speed construction of a 670-mile border security fence by the Homeland Security Agency is viewed as violations of constitutional law by a very significant number of citizens, including legal scholars, land owners affected by the waivers and the general public; and

WHEREAS, it is contended that the Secretary of Homeland Security has waived more than 30 laws via the authority granted him by the Real ID Act of 2005 to meet the Bush Administration’s goal to finish the half-completed fence by year’s end; and

WHEREAS, the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid is working with more than 400 South Texas landowners whose property faces condemnation for the fence and Legal Aid argues that Homeland Security did not properly consult with property owners before filing condemnation lawsuits; and

WHEREAS, a lawsuit filed by the city of El Paso against Homeland Security – and joined by a broad coalition of Texas-based environmental groups – is in federal court in El Paso; and

WHEREAS, on May 16, the Texas Border Coalition, comprised of elected officials and business leaders, filed a class-action lawsuit against Homeland Security and the Border Patrol to halt construction of the fence claiming that Homeland Security violated the process and constitutional equal protection guarantees by failing to negotiate in good faith with border landowners; and

WHEREAS, on June 19, the University of Texas at Brownsville asked the federal court for relief after Homeland Security said it planned to seize about two acres of university land for fence construction and the land on which the fence would be built would effectively slice off up to 180 acres of university property from the rest of campus; and

WHEREAS, on June 30, 2008, a federal judge ordered Texas University in Brownsville and the Homeland Security Administration to continue to meet in search of alternatives to building a border fence across campus stating that his March order had not complied with the university to come up with a better plan than the one that puts more than a quarter of the school’s acreage – including the golf course – behind the U.S.-Mexico border fence; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court on June 23, 2008, gave the Bush administration a victory when it declined to step into the controversy over the waiver leaving the Congress of the United States and lower courts to address the issue; and

WHEREAS, U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, has authored a bill that would repeal the portion of the Real ID Act that provides the waiver authority; and

WHEREAS, 49 members of Congress have signed on to the bill; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that LULAC supports the Grijalva bill and will ask Congress to vote affirmatively to pass the bill; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that LULAC supports the Texas Border Coalition’s El Paso lawsuit and the Rio Grande Legal Aid efforts on behalf of the more than 400 South Texas landowners; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that LULAC supports the University of Texas at Brownsville federal court request.

Approved this 11th day of July 2008.
Rosa Rosales
LULAC National President