Friday, April 4, 2008

Write Congress to Protest Chertoff's Waiver of Laws on the Border!

Invoking the power granted by the Real ID Act to waive any law that he sees fit to build walls on the border, DHS Secretary Chertoff has suspended 36 federal laws. This allows him to begin border wall construction immediately, regardless of the damage that they will do to communities and the environment. Homes will be bulldozed, farms will be sliced in half, and endnagered species will be driven to extinction. The Real ID Act makes a mockery of the notion of the rule of law.

We must flood Congress with calls, letters, and emails demanding that they immediately repeal section 102 of the Real ID Act and rescind the waivers that Chertoff has issued.

Contact you Representative today and let them know that since they enacted the Real ID Act, it is up to them to repeal it and undo the damage. You can contact House members using the House of Representatives website:

Contact your US Senators and let them know that they too bear responsibility for undermining the rule of law, and must act immediately to repeal section 102 of the Real ID Act. You can contact your Senators using the Senate's website:

The No Border Wall Coalition will be sending the following letter to members of Congress. Feel free to quote or paraphrase from it when you call or write your elected representatives.



Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has “waived in their entirety” 36 federal laws along the entire United States southern border from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas. This represents an unprecedented abuse of authority on Secretary Chertoff’s part, and clearly demonstrates the need for an immediate repeal of section 102 of the Real ID Act.

Obeying the law is not voluntary, it is mandatory, and Secretary Chertoff cannot legitimately claim to be sweeping aside a host of laws on the border in defense of immigration laws. In a nation of laws all laws must be respected, not just those that are convenient.

Equal protection under the law is meant to be a fundamental right shared by every American, but the Real ID Act makes the legal rights of citizens who live near the border conditional on Secretary Chertoff’s whims. Section 102 of the Real ID Act of 2005 states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive all legal requirements such Secretary, in such Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.” No one else is granted this extreme power under any circumstance. The President cannot waive our nation’s laws even in times of national crisis, and Secretary Chertoff cannot waive the laws that protect citizens who live away from the border. Only border residents may have their legal protections waived.

The only reason for Secretary Chertoff to waive these laws is because he knows that construction of the border wall will break them. In announcing the Real ID Act waivers Secretary Chertoff said, "Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation." The waivers are an admission that the border wall will itself violate these 36 federal laws, making construction of the wall a criminal act. If Chertoff is genuinely concerned with criminal activity he should ensure that the agency that he oversees complies with the law. Instead, by setting these 36 federal laws aside, Secretary Chertoff sets himself above the law.

Congress must not allow unchecked power to remain in the hands of an unelected administration appointee. As James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands… may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” Allowing one man to overrule laws passed by Congress and signed by the President for the express intent of circumventing judicial oversight is un-American.

The No Border Wall Coalition calls on Congress to repeal section 102 of the Real ID Act and restore the rule of law. The waivers already written must be rescinded so that citizens whose only offense is the location of their homes may again be afforded the full protection of all of our nation’s laws. In passing the Real ID Act Congress created this situation, and it is now up to Congress to remedy it.