Congress to hold field hearing on border wall

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House Natural Resources subcommittees call hearing in Brownsville, Texas

(04/25/2008) - WASHINGTON – Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Madeleine Z. Bordallo (Guam-at large), subcommittee chairs of the House Natural Resources Committee, have called a field hearing to discuss the border wall and the REAL ID Act waiver used by the Bush administration to bypass more than 30 national environmental and public safety laws. The hearing will cover issues of expense, effectiveness and the dramatic impacts the wall and the waiver will have on public lands, public agencies and private citizens.

The hearing will be held in Brownsville, Texas on Monday, April 28 at 10:00 AM, in the Lecture Hall of the Science, Engineering and Technology Building (SET-B) at the University of Texas-Brownsville.

"As far as we’re concerned, the most important topic to discuss at the field hearing is the Bush administration’s reckless and arrogant use of this unconstitutional waiver authority,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. “Several members of Congress, including the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), have said that the waiver authority is not supposed to be a first step, but rather a last resort in building segments of the border wall."

Defenders of Wildlife and The Sierra Club have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to have their challenge to the waiver authority heard by the court. Last week, three friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the petition were filed on behalf of 14 members of Congress, a diverse coalition of conservation, religious and Native American organizations, and 28 law professors and constitutional scholars.

"Some of the most endangered species in the U.S., along with the federal lands that were established to protect them, are under assault by bulldozers because the administration is acting as if it is above the law," said Schlickeisen. " Chairman Grijalva has introduced legislation that would re-establish balance in the federal government by repealing the waiver authority while still securing America's border with Mexico and reducing the negative impact on communities and public resources. It's the quintessential win-win."

A reporter trip organized by local activists and members of the No Border Wall coalition is departing at the conclusion of the hearing from the lecture hall for a two-hour tour that tentatively includes a visit to Sable Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary, a meeting with a local landowner and a visit to Hope Park on the river near downtown Brownsville.  Reporters can see and photograph firsthand how these locations would be affected by a border wall. For more information on this reporter tour, please contact Betty Perez at bettygraceperez@gmail.com

Learn more about what Defenders is doing to protect wildlife along the border.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.  For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

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Contact(s):

Brian Segee, (301) 277-4375
Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270

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