Land transportation and border securityTexas group sues to stop border fence

Published 20 May 2008

Environmentalists and immigration rights advocates have been in the forefront of the fight against the U.S.-Mexico border fence project; now, a coalition of business owners and small towns along the border has joined the battle

The coalition forming against the U.S.-Mexico border fence projects expands. The latest to use the legal system to try and stop the project is the Texas Border Coalition, which includes a number of cities along the U.S.-Mexico border, has filed a lawsuit against the border fence. In court papers filed Friday in Washington, D.C., the group asked a court to block the construction of the fence in the Rio Grande Valley. The coalition, which also includes business groups, charges that DHS did not consult landowners in the area. DHS secretary Michael Chertoff denied that in a news conference Friday. Eagle Pass mayor Chad Foster, who chairs the coalition, called the fence “an antiquated solution for a 21st century problem.”

The suit was designed to force federal officials to restart a protracted process to survey land as a first step to federal purchase. Chertoff has run “roughshod over the rights of property owners to build a border wall on a foundation of lawlessness,” Peter Schey, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and lead counsel in the case, said. “We hope that we are able to bring this lawless conduct to build this wall into conformity with federal statutes and the United States Constitution.” Federal officials intimidated some landowners along the border by sending DHS officials and agents of the Corps of Engineers and Border Patrol to try to arrange access to survey their properties, Schey contended. The suit also noted that fence construction would bypass the River Bend Resort and golf course in Brownsville, and border lands owned by Dallas billionaire Ray Hunt and his relatives.