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House Dems to DHS: Obey the Law at the Border

As Daphne pointed out, the Supreme Court last week declined to take up a case brought by several U.S. towns against the Department of Homeland Security for waiving a number of environmental laws during construction of the anti-immigration fence at the Mexican border.

Those waivers — effectively scrapping laws to protect drinking water, wildlife and Indian graves, among other things — were installed by the Bush administration to expedite fence construction, but the Obama administration has kept them in place as the wall continues to go up.

Today, a number of House Democrats picked the fight that the High Court wouldn’t, urging the White House to reinstate those waived laws for the remainder of the fence construction. In a June 23 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the 27 lawmakers argue that “damage that has occurred to community relationships and public lands is attributable, at least in part, to the haste with which construction has proceeded, the lack of compliance with laws and regulations, and the lack of consultation with property owners and land managers.”

The lawmakers also point out that the unfinished sections of the fence rest largely in two of the region’s most sensitive natural preserves: California’s Otay Mountain Wilderness Area and the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

If you conclude that completing these segments is necessary, we ask that you direct the Border Patrol to comply with the applicable legal requirements for construction in these areas. More careful consideration now could save mitigation dollars later, as well as avoiding the types of impacts that will be difficult to mitigate at any cost.

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