Home > Immigration News > Article Lists The 28 Laws Waived To Build Hidalgo County Border Fence

Posted on April 15, 2008 by Robert A. Kraft

The Dallas Morning News today reports that 28 separate federal laws or regulations were waived in order for Homeland Security to build the Texas-Mexico border fence. It looks like the waivers will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Here are exerpts:

The U.S. Supreme Court may get a chance to join the fractious debate over building fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. A legal challenge by two environmental groups seeking to limit enhanced Department of Homeland Security powers to suspend more than 30 laws to build the fence is gathering support in Congress. But at least one constitutional expert said that although the legal challenge underscores the broad array of powers Congress has delegated to Homeland Security, “environmentalists face an uphill battle.” “There is a legitimate legal gripe here, in that there are serious questions about how much power Congress can delegate to other branches of government,” said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law authority at George Washington University Law School. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the waiver of about three dozen environmental laws to expedite construction of the border fence in Texas and Arizona on April 1. “This blanket waiver of laws like the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act is a clear and disturbing abuse of the secretary’s discretion,” said U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee. “Congress’ efforts to seek justification for this waiver from DHS have been stonewalled, which leads me to believe none exists.” Congress also denied oversight by federal appeals courts to any challenges, except for a request to the Supreme Court to review. In his announcement of the most recent waivers, Mr. Chertoff said that Homeland Security remains committed to environmental responsibility and that the agency “is neither compromising its commitment to responsible environmental stewardship nor its commitment to solicit and respond to the needs of state, local and tribal governments, other agencies of the federal government and local residents.” He stressed that his agency will continue to work closely with the Department of Interior and other federal and state resources management agencies to ensure that impact to the environment and cultural and historic artifacts is properly analyzed and minimized. But the size and scope of the use of waivers to clear the path for construction of the border fence is virtually unprecedented, Dr. Turley said. More troubling, he added, is the apparent dismissal of due process as “endless debate or protracted litigation.” Mr. Chertoff has said the waivers are necessary because “criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.” But Dr. Turley said Congress has in recent years “become almost waiver happy.” “They see it as a form of no-cost legislating,” he said. “But there is no evidence Congress considered the implications of giving Homeland Security such broad waiver power.” There are indications that Congress may be trying to regain some of the authority it gave away. Hidalgo Couny: Laws in suspension: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff waived the following laws for construction of the border fence in Hidalgo County, Texas: 1. National Environmental Policy Act 2. Endangered Species Act 3. Federal Water Pollution Control Act 4. National Historic Preservation Act 5. Migratory Bird Treaty Act 6. Clean Air Act 7. Archaeological Resources Protection Act 8. Safe Drinking Water Act 9. Noise Control Act 10. Solid Waste Disposal Act 11. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 12. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act 13. Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act 14. Antiquities Act 15. Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act 16. Farmland Protection Policy Act 17. Coastal Zone Management Act 18. Federal Land Policy and Management Act 19. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act 20. Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 21. Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 22. Administrative Procedure Act 23. Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 24. Eagle Protection Repatriation Act 25. Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 26. American Indian Religious Freedom Act 27. Religious Freedom Restoration Act 28. Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977 SOURCE: Federal Register Online

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