Monday, April 7, 2008

Members of Congress Support the Constitutional Challenge to Chertoff's Border Wall Waivers

Today 14 members of Congress announced that they will file an Amicus Curiae brief in support of the constitutional challenge to the Real ID Act filed by the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife. Section 102 of the Real ID Act gives Secretary Chertoff and Secretary Chertoff alone the power to waive any local, state, or federal law that he decides will slow construction of the border wall. The Real ID Act failed when it was introduced as a stand alone bill, and only passed when it was attached as a rider on a bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with tsunami relief. The power given to the Secretary of Homeland Security to sweep away laws passed by Congress and signed by the President for the express purpose of avoiding judicial review is clearly a violation of the separation of powers provided for in the US Constitution.

It is extremely heartening to see members of Congress defending the Constitution and the rule of law. Many members of Congress appear to be too frightened of the lobbying power of xenophobic extremists, or of the likely negative press spewed by pundits such as Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannnity. Rather than stand up for what they know is right, they crouch down and hope that they won't be noticed and the whole issue will go away. Any member of Congress who has not signed on to the Amicus Curiae brief in support of the Constitutional challenge to Chertoff's unchecked power should be contacted and asked to explain their inaction. Members of the House of Representatives should also be urged to cosponsor the Borderlands Conservation and Security Act (HR 2593) which would repeal section 102 of the Real ID Act, restoring the rule of law to our borderlands.

The following is the press release issued by the members of Congress who will sign the Amicus Curiae brief:

April 7, 2008 – Today, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security led a group of 14 Members of Congress, including eight Committee Chairmen, in submitting a notice of intent to file an Amicus Curiae brief in the Defenders of Wildlife case (No. 07-1180). The brief, which will be filed by the end of the month, pertains to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s use of questionable waiver authority to skirt numerous federal laws in order to construct fencing along the southwest border.

The Amici will urge the Supreme Court to grant certiorari in the case. The petitioners, the Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club, allege that the Department of Homeland Security’s use of the waiver is unconstitutional.

Today’s notice of intent is being submitted by:

· Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS);
· Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI);
· Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI);
· Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN);
· Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA);
· Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
· Veterans Affairs Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA);
· Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX);
· Congressman Solomon Ortiz (D-TX);
· Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA);
· Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-CA);
· Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA);
· Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ); and
· Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY).

Speaking to today’s filing, Chairman Thompson noted that “this waiver by the Secretary of Homeland Security is a direct challenge to Congress’s Constitutional role. The American people entrust Congress to ensure that the laws of this land are faithfully executed not excused by the Executive Branch.” Congressman Thompson added that “while the protection of our nation is a paramount concern to all of us, DHS must act prudently and respect the laws that Congress has written. The far-reaching effects that this waiver will have on the institution of Congress, as well as the border, demands that we act swiftly.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) added that "our responsibility to be stewards of the earth cannot be thrown aside for the sake of an ill-conceived border fence. The Administration exempts itself from a duty to protect the environment, sacred burial sites, and centuries-old farms, but conveniently spares wealthy landowners from the bulldozers."

“This blanket waiver of laws like the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act is a clear and disturbing abuse of the Secretary’s discretion,” added Rep. John D. Dingell, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Congress’ efforts to seek justification for this waiver from DHS have been stonewalled, which leads me to believe none exists.”

“The Department of Homeland Security’s decision to issue waivers to expedite the construction of a wasteful fence along the Southwest border is disappointing at best. As a former Border Patrol Sector Chief and current Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, I know the importance of securing our borders and fully support providing our agents with strong tools to carry out their jobs. I do not, however, support DHS’s continued disregard for border communities. This recent attempt to bypass more than 30 laws and regulations to pursue an already ill-advised idea should not move forward,” added Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes.

The Members are represented by Alan E. Untereiner, Max Huffman, and Alan D. Strasser of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP in Washington, DC.

4 comments:

adam brown said...
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Steve said...

http://www.bleedingborders.com

BLEEDING BORDERS is a fresh look at the US/MX border issues. While the border is not completely secure right now, it is much more secure than back in 1995 when thousands of people streamed across nightly. You cannot completely secure a 2,000 mile long border, it would take an army of about 200,000, and we are not at war with Mexico, they are our second largest trading partner.

http://www.bleedingborders.com

One thing stands clear after all of our interviews. It is STUPID to build a wall on any River Section of the Border. The river itself is a natural barrier. It is easier to put a ladder over a wall, than make it across the river without drowning. Undocumented workers from all over the world drown in the river all the time.

http://www.bleedingborders.com

Steve said...

http://www.bleedingborders.com

I am in post production of a documentary about the US/MX border. Originally, I went down to the border to make my film to embarrass the US Government into doing their job. What I found is they are doing their job. The border is much more secure than it was in 1995.

http://www.bleedingborders.com

My film crew traveled the entire border from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, filming and interviewing on BOTH sides of the border. After compiling all of the interviews from folks working and living on both sides of the US/MX border, the conclusion is inescapable. The walls we have, don’t really work, and are only a "Speed Bump." New walls will not work. (Except as a multi-billion dollar speed bump) All the walls in Tijuana have done is drive up the death rate of undocumented workers.

http://www.bleedingborders.com

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