Expert legal team for Lipan Apache files
suit against Chertoff to halt land seizures
By Brenda Norrell
BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- A team of attorneys for Lipan Apache Eloisa Garcia Tamez filed a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Wednesday to halt the seizure of lands for the border wall. The lawsuit was filed by Peter Schey, director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, and a team from the South Texas Civil Rights Project.
Chertoff has acted in "flagrant disregard" of the laws of the United States, according to the suit.
The lawsuit, in part, states: "... plaintiff the United States and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff have acted in flagrant disregard of the laws of the United States in pushing forward their plan to build at least 70 miles of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley area in the vicinity of Roma, Rio Grande City, McAllen, Progreso, Mercedes, Harlingen, and Brownsville, Texas, including in their treatment of Dr. Tamez and the other property owners in the cases joined for hearing before this Court.
"Plaintiff the United States and Secretary Chertoff obviously are not authorized by either the Constitution or the Congress to seize land owned by cities, private property owners, and land-grant owners, in violation of federal laws. Yet this is precisely what it appears they are doing in their actions to immediately seize ownership of border properties."
Further, the lawsuit states that Chertoff has failed to enter into mandated consultation with Tamez and other landowners.
"Dr. Tamez and other property owners assert that Secretary Chertoff or his designees have engaged in NO consultation regarding 'this section' of the 2008 Appropriations Act, which inter alia encompasses the Secretary's new discretion NOT to place a border fence through Dr. Tamez's property or indeed any properties along the 70 miles the Secretary has focused on because he was previously mandated to do so by Congress in 2006."
Tamez is fighting the seizure of her three acres in El Calaboz. All along the Texas border, mayors and legislators have united in opposition to the border wall.
All along the South Texas border, cross border friendship and commerce is celebrated. In this economically-strapped region, people on both sides of the border cross frequently for shopping and eating in restaurants. The US/Mexico border wall now is a threat to the way of life here, and private property ownership.
The lawsuit states, "The Government's planned seizure and use of Dr. Tamez’s land, as well as its proposed border fence, would in fact have an adverse impact on cultural and quality of life issues mentioned in the 2008 Budget Act, and on the economic value of her real property interest, or this opposition would not be presented even though the Secretary of Homeland Security is acting unlawfully."
Photo: Eloisa Tamez and daughter Margo on family land at El Calaboz. Photo Arnoldo Garcia.