Our Opinion: The futile fenceby Tucson Citizen on Apr. 04, 2008, under Opinion
Chertoff marches on, wreaking havoc, ignoring rule of law
Archaeological treasures, ancient Indian graves, clean drinking water and fragile lands clearly don’t matter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Such sensitive, federally protected features of our borderlands must not delay completion of a 700-mile border fence, he insisted Tuesday.
Chertoff’s decision to waive 36 federal laws is an outrage, as is his callous disregard of entire communities in southern Arizona and elsewhere along the border.
Congress gave him permission in 2005 to waive federal laws, and Congress now needs to revoke that atrociously flawed authority.
Tuesday, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords decried Chertoff’s failure to consult community groups or local, state and federal officials before arbitrarily making his decision.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva accurately noted, “These waivers are an attempt to wreck more than a century of protections for our resources and the health of our communities by an administration on its way out of town.”
The normally required environmental impact reviews for such massive projects now will be waived on hundreds of thousands of acres – and for what?
The border fence cannot stanch the flow of economic refugees, millions of whom have risked “death by desert” to seek work in the U.S.
The fence also does nothing about the many millions of immigrants who remain here illegally after overstaying their visas.
It is a futile effort being made in a vacuum, with no comprehensive immigration reforms or real enforcement in sight.
Meanwhile, even as Homeland Security waives laws that would protect fragile lands, waterways and antiquities, it will protect the upscale River Bend Resort and golf course, the Texas Observer reported in February.
There, in Brownsville, Texas, Homeland Security is serving condemnation lawsuit notices to owners of border property. But the fence will stop where the River Bend site begins, then resume at the other end of the resort.
The fence won’t stop, though, for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in southern Arizona. Nor will it stop for the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.
It will march on, at an estimated cost of $1 million a mile, threatening protected lands from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.
Congress must stop this nonsense. It must revoke the authority granted to Homeland Security to waive federal laws, a ridiculous notion that never should have been enacted.
Americans must be ensured of protections under real laws, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act or the Clean Air Act. And Chertoff’s folly must be brought to a stop.