April 4, 2008
Mr. Chertoff -- Don't Build this Wall!
Oliver Bernstein, Deputy Press Secretary
It would have been the perfect April Fool's Day prank if it weren't true. On Tuesday the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael "Don't call me Miguel" Chertoff waived more than 30 federal laws to speed up construction of a controversial wall along the U.S./Mexico border.
Chertoff and the contractors who would build this concrete curtain might be laughing, but the endangered ocelot and the hundreds of migratory bird and butterfly species in the borderlands are not. Neither are the business owners who depend on ecotourism dollars or the landowners whose land would be split in two by this boondoggle.
How can Chertoff get away with this? The oh-so-popular REAL ID Act of 2005 gives Chertoff the authority to waive any and all laws in order to speed up construction of walls along the border. But remember that pesky U.S. Constitution? Apparently Chertoff doesn't. I doubt the framers of the Constitution wanted an individual -- particularly a member of Bush's cabinet -- to disregard longstanding laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Clean Water Act all by himself. I mean, what if the wall doesn’t work? Even Chertoff doesn't think it will work.
I am amazed at how far this wildly unpopular border wall project has gotten, but maybe Lou Dobbs has something to do with it. After Sierra Club declined to appear on his CNN "news" program Tuesday night, the outspoken anti-immigrant "news" anchor told his viewers that "the Sierra Club can stick it. That's the official stand of this broadcast on that issue."
Thanks Lou. If you're telling us to "stick it," then we must be doing something right. But the official stand of the Sierra Club on this issue is that our government should not exempt itself from our great laws intended to give all Americans a voice in decisions that affect their lives and that help respect wildlife and human rights. No joke.