January 12, 2009
The City Commission joined other cities and counties throughout the U.S.-Mexico border in backing El Paso County in its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's waiver of state and local laws in order to build a wall along the border.
In joining the amicus brief, Brownsville and other affected cities and counties are not a party to the lawsuit, but are making the court aware that the issues before it also affect them.
The cities and counties noted that the waivers of state and local laws by a non-elected federal official of any statute that the officials sees fit in order to accomplish a given goal " . . . raise profound, unanswered questions . . ."
The commission majority voted Monday to join the brief under the understanding that the deadline to join is today. If not, the issue would be presented to the full commission at a future meeting.
But following the commission's special meeting Monday, Mayor Pat M. Ahumada Jr. said that he was "ecstatic" that the commissioners present, Anthony Troiani and Edward Camarillo, approved his request. Commissioner Charlie Atkinson abstained while remaining commissioners were not present.
"This gives us one more opportunity to come together as a commission and community and oppose the border wall," Ahumada said. "Brownsville has nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining the brief."
Atkinson said he abstained because he was not sure what all the information entailed.
"It was put to us pretty quick," Atkinson said, adding that he would have hoped for a week's notice.