Monday, May 18, 2009

Brownsville City Commission to stand up to feds on border fence

Brownsville Herald
May 18, 2009
by Emme Perez Trevino

The City Commission today might issue a loud, strong message that, in Brownsville, there is "zero tolerance for bullying."

That statement, in the form of a resolution, would be directed to local, state and federal agencies and officials from President Barack Obama on down, in firm opposition to proposed construction of a fence between Brownsville and Matamoros.

The statement would come on the heels of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's move last week to take possession of 15.919 acres of city land amid negotiations with city officials.
"No more bullying! Time to leave the gross dysfunctionality behind! Your conduct has been and is unacceptable to us!" the proposed resolution states. It also is aimed at DHS, the federal agency charged with the border fence project, and calls for good-faith negotiations.

The City Commission is scheduled to consider the 10-page resolution at its regular meeting today, starting at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1001 E. Elizabeth St. The agenda reflects that Mayor Pat M. Ahumada Jr. and Commissioner Edward C. Camarillo placed the proposed resolution on the agenda.

The resolution asks proposes halting o negotiations between the city and DHS regarding construction of temporary fences on the East Loop levee and between the Gateway International Bridge and the B&M International Bridge as an alternative to a permanent structure. The property would revert to the city when the city provides replacement barriers, including construction of a new levee. Under the negotiations, the temporary fence would be removed by DHS, if funding is available. Otherwise, it would be the city's responsibility and the city would bear the cost of the replacement barriers.

The resolution proposes that city officials rescind any prior negotiations or agreements with DHS, and "recognizes that the latest proposed agreement would be too costly for Brownsville taxpayers to absorb on a federal project that it (the city) should not be forced to accept or pay for."

The resolution points out that the federally mandated "one-size-fits-all" border fence is "irrational" and that technology and more manpower, as recommended by the U.S. Border Patrol sector chief, should be applied instead.

The resolution notes that, "we, in Brownsville, stand in unity, steadfastly, with unbowed heads, earnestly and vigorously seeking, in good faith, a just and peaceful outcome to the ongoing" border fence crisis.

The proposed resolution also notes that the city would hire an attorney to fight DHS in federal court, "in the event that the DHS does not recognize us as equals."

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