[News] Michael Chertoff, You’ve Been Sued

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 6 19:46:25 EST 2008

Michael Chertoff, You’ve Been Sued


Texas Border Residents Take Homeland Security 
Chief to Court Over Land Seizures for Border Wall

By Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr.
Inside the Checkpoints: Commentary from the Rio Grande

February 6, 2008

February is not a good month for Secretary of 
Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. He has just 
been sued by a team of legal experts headed by 
Peter Schey of the Los Angeles based Center for 
<http://www.centerforhumanrights.org/>Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

A stretch of the border wall in California. 
Chertoff hopes to build a similar one in Texas.
Photos: D.R. 2008 Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr.
When Chertoff began wielding his power to build a 
border wall along the US-Mexico border, border 
residents knew it was an abuse of his power and 
that he was violating human rights and the 
Constitution. Finding someone to defend the 
owners of property along the border was not easy, 
especially when elected officials in highest 
offices of the respective states, California, 
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, in concert with 
the nationally elected officials, turned their 
heads, covered their eyes and failed to protect 
the people who elected them to protect them and 
their property rights from such abuses of power.

It became even more difficult to level the legal 
playing field when the political talk show hosts 
in their techno towers referred to border 
residents, opponents of the border wall and the 
property owners in degrading and demeaning terms. 
The federal officials began stalking property 
owners to persuade them to grant access to their 
private property. They even bullied city and 
county officials, using every tactic in the 
political play-book. Things changed when Chertoff 
began abusing his powers against the property 
owners in Texas. A legal team of experienced 
professionals has since come together to defend 
and protect the human rights and constitutional 
rights from such abuse of power.

The law suit is filed by Peter A. Schey, Carlos 
Holguin and Dawn Schock of the Center of Human 
Rights and Constitutional Law as well as James 
Harrington, Abner Burnett and Corinna 
Spencer-Scheurick of the South Texas Civil Rights 
Project. The lawsuit they filed states that the 
“plaintiff the United States and Secretary of 
Homeland Security Michael Chertoff have acted in 
flagrant disregard of the laws of the United 
States” and “obviously are not authorized by the 
Constitution or Congress to seize land owned by 
cities, private property owners, and land-grant 
owners in violation of federal laws. Yet this is 
precisely what it appears that they are doing in 
their actions to immediately seize ownership of border properties.”

What does this mean? This means that Chertoff 
knowingly has abused his power over the citizens 
of the United States of America. Can a man 
legally commit such acts of aggression against US 
citizens? Can a man who was not elected by the 
people of the United States disregard the 
Constitution and the Congress and seize citizens’ 
property? One woman that this legal team is 
representing, Eloisa Tamez, PhD in nursing at the 
University of Texas, Brownsville, has stood up to 
Chertoff and said “NO” to a man who wields 
dictatorial powers over land she owns in Texas. 
She says, “There is no price tag. This is 
something I want to will to my children and to 
their children.” Incidentally, Chertoff has also 
just threatened to file suit against the 
University of Brownsville for its refusal to 
comply with his demand for access to University 
land where the proposed wall would cut off a 
major portion of the campus, including a sizeable 
chunk of its 18-hole golf course.

Eloisa Tamez inherited a small parcel of acreage 
in a small community on the Rio Grande in Texas 
called El Calaboz. It is a remnant of land that 
was granted to her ancestors by the king of Spain 
in the San Pedro de Carricitos Land Grant, of the 
Nuevo Santander region that today is known as 
South Texas. This land has therefore been in her 
family for some 265 years. Even before the land 
grant from Spain, Eloisa’s ancestors, who were 
Chiricahua and Lipan Apache, shared these lands.

What the DHS wants to do is build a two-story 
border wall through this land, which would 
destroy centuries of residential and agricultural 
enjoyment. As the legal team states, “The 
Government’s planned seizure and use of Dr. 
Tamez’s land, as well as the proposed border 
fence, would in fact have an adverse impact on 
the cultural and quality of life issues mentioned 
in the 2008 Budget Act, and on the economic value 
of her real property interest, or this opposition 
would not be presented even though the Secretary 
of Homeland Security is acting unlawfully.”

In its defense of her, the lawsuit says that 
“Secretary Chertoff has proceeded
in a manner that violates federal laws.”

While it is true that the Secure Fence Act of 
2006 provided for the construction of 700 miles 
of border wall, that act was amended by the 2008 
Appropriations Act and signed into law on 
December 26, 2007. The lawsuit addresses four 
changes that the Appropriations Act makes 
relative to the issue of constructing the border wall:

    * That it “replaces the mandate that the 
border fence be built in areas specifically 
designated by Congress with the requirement that 
Secretary Chertoff assess where fencing would be most effective.”
    * The lawsuit also emphasizes the portion of 
the amendment that states that the Secretary’s 
authority to determine location of the fence is 
due to expire on December 31, 2008.
    * Requires consultation “with the Secretary 
of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, 
States, local governments, Indian tribes, and 
property owners
 to minimize the impact on the 
environment, culture, commerce, and quality of 
life for the communities and residents near the 
sites at which such fencing is to be constructed.”
    * “Nothing
 shall require the Secretary of 
Homeland Security to install fencing, physical 
barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors in a particular location

The reality is that Chertoff does not have to 
build the wall on anyone’s land. The reality is 
that Chertoff wants to build the wall there. The 
reality is that Chertoff does not have the 
authority to build the wall on any land without 
consulting those affected by it. The reality is 
that he has never consulted with those who would 
be affected and whose land he is seizing.

Eloisa Tamez in December, attending a DHS “open 
house” to learn more about the wall.
So despite such laws, Chertoff is hell bent on 
building the wall before the year’s end
that is when, under the same Appropriations Act, 
Chertoff looses his power over building the wall. 
His acts of oppression, his law suits against 
private property owners and the City of Eagle 
Pass, and the seizure of their lands shows that 
he is outside the law and outside the authority that has been given him.

It is a pity that sincere hardworking citizens 
have to fight the abusiveness of their own 
government in order to protect their rights. 
What’s worse is that they are forced to defend 
themselves against the very agency that was set 
up to protect citizens from terrorism, an agency 
that is causing more terror in the lives of such 
Americans then they’ve ever experienced before.

One such woman, Dr. Eloisa Tames, finds herself 
in such an abusive situation. A victim of the 
dictatorial powers of Chertoff, she finds herself 
having to go to court tomorrow to defend her 
small parcel of land. This honest, hardworking 
woman and her small 1.04-acre tract of land that 
has been in her family, is big enough to prove 
that she is not more secure under Chertoff’s 
homeland security, but more terrorized.

As the lawsuit well delineates, Chertoff is not 
mandated to build an iron curtain through Eloisa 
Tamez’s land that has been in her family for at 
least 265 years. Yet, in his rush to seize her 
property by the year’s end, when he looses his 
authority, he is forcing her to defend her land 
now. In his haste, the threatening legal notice 
that he sent her stating that she would be sued 
if she did not relinquish the property did not 
even have the property’s correct legal description.

Eloisa Tamez, along with hundreds of others, has 
been a victim of trauma, tyranny and
terror. No 
one in government has stepped up to protect 
Eloisa, to right the wrongs being leveled on her 
and her property. So much for security in her 
homeland! It has taken the volunteer efforts of 
fellow citizens and a willing team of legal 
experts to stand with her in her fight against a 
form of terrorism from which she is not otherwise 
being protected, a terrorism that originates from 
one man. The secretary of Homeland Security, 
Michael Chertoff! He has just been sued.

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