Friday, April 24, 2009

Border fence fight persists: Landowner: Government violated court order by building wall

Brownsville Herald
April 23, 2009
by Kevin Seiff

Less than one week after a federal judge cleared the way for construction of the border fence on Eloisa Tamez's property, the barrier has been completed on her swath of land in El Calaboz.

But Tamez and her attorneys say the government ignored U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen's court order by hastily building the fence. On April 16, Hanen mandated federal officials to "consult with the landowners of the property in question prior to exercising the rights given in this order."

But according to Tamez, no such consultation ever took place. After she noticed construction materials on her property, her attorney, Peter Schey, filed for a temporary restraining order on Thursday, claiming that the court's stipulation had been ignored. "We would like to begin an immediate discussion regarding the defendant's concerns," Schey wrote.

But by 3 p.m. Thursday, the fence had already been built on Tamez's three-acre property, before a hearing on the restraining order could take place. Construction was completed in less than 24 hours.

"It's an outrage," Tamez said. " The government is acting without regard for the judge's decision."

The court-ordered consultation was meant to inform Tamez when and how her property would be transferred to the government and how the barrier's environmental impact would be minimized.

A hearing meant to address Tamez's request for a restraining order is scheduled for 9 a.m. today in Hanen's court, but with construction now complete it's unclear what purpose it will serve.

Tamez has her own suggestions.

"They're going to have to tear it down," she said. "They can't get away with this."

Throughout the 18-month-long case, the federal government has declined requests for comment due to pending litigation.

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