A federal judge has ruled border protection negatively impacts “indigenous communities” and “lower-income minority communities.”
Judge Beryl Howell, appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Obama in 2010, agreed with Denise Gilman, a clinical professor at the of Texas-Austin. Gilman, who is researching the “human rights impact” of border enforcement, sued in federal court to force the Department of Homeland Security to reveal through a FOIA request the names of property owners along the border to determine if fence construction will be disadvantageous to “minority property owners,” Judicial Watch reported last week.
Fence construction “along specific portions of the U.S.-Mexico border, including areas in Texas” is mandated by the Secure Fence Act, enacted in 2006. The act permits the Department of Homeland Security to determine “where fencing would be most practical and effective” and requires the agency to consult with “states, local governments, Indian tribes, and property owners. . . to minimize the impact” on those living near the fence.
The government argued disclosure of the information will reveal “specific negotiations between landowners and the government, sometimes including a discussion of the particular terms a landowner was willing to accept to permit access or purchase.”
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection argued disclosing the names of property owners would subject them to unwanted media attention because the border fence “touched a nerve among many groups.” The agency said “a justified and articulable risk of media harassment” implicates a substantial privacy interest.
“This is simply the latest controversy to strike the border fence project since Congress approved it to protect national security and curb an illegal immigration and drug-trafficking crisis,” notes Judicial Watch. “In the last few years the mayors of several Texas border towns have blocked federal access to areas where the fence is scheduled to be built, an Indian tribe tried to block the barrier in the Arizona desert by claiming the feds were intruding on tribal land and a group of government scientists claimed the fencing would threaten the black bear population.”
In 2012 Amnesty International declared border security to be a violation of human rights. A two-year study concentrating primarily on Arizona and Texas concluded that “communities living along the border — particularly Latinos and individuals perceived to be of Latino origin, and indigenous communities — are disproportionately affected by a range of immigration control measures, resulting in a pattern of human rights violations,” CNN reported.
Amnesty International demands the suspension and a federal review of all immigration enforcement programs.
In June a renowned Mexican columnist and academic, Lorenzo Meyer, said an influx of agents on the U.S. side of the border amounts to a human rights violation. Meyer suggested Mexico retaliate by ejecting American retirees.
Maria Garcia, the president of the Mexico City-based Aztlan Binational Migrants Movement, said an increase in Border Patrol agents will put lives at risk because migrants will be forced to find more dangerous and remote crossings.
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