[News] Apaches Defend Homeland from Homeland Security

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 8 15:04:56 EST 2008


http://www.counterpunch.org/norrell01082008.html

January 8, 2008


Land Seizures and Militarization in the Border Zone


Apaches Defend Homeland from Homeland Security

By BRENDA NORRELL

RIO GRANDE, Texas.

Apache land owners on the Rio Grande told 
Homeland Security to halt the seizure of their 
lands for the US/Mexico border wall on January 7, 
2008. It was the same day that a 30-day notice 
from Homeland Security expired with the threat of 
land seizures by eminent domain to build the US/Mexico border wall.

"There are two kinds of people in this world, 
those who build walls and those who build 
bridges," said Enrique Madrid, Jumano Apache 
community member, land owner in Redford and 
archaeological steward for the Texas Historical Commission.

"The wall in South Texas is militarization," 
Madrid said of the planned escalation of 
militarization with Border Patrol and soldiers. 
"They will be armed and shoot to kill."

It was in Redford that a U.S. Marine shot and 
killed 18-year-old Esequiel Hernandez, herding his sheep near his home in 1997.

"We had hoped he would be the last United States 
citizen and the last Native American to be killed 
by troops," Madrid said during a media conference 
call on January 7 with Apaches from Texas and Arizona.

Dr. Eloisa Garcia Tamez, Lipan Apache professor 
living in the Lower Rio Grande, described how US 
officials attempted to pressure her into allowing 
them onto her private land to survey for the 
US/Mexico border wall. When Tamez refused, she 
was told that she would be taken to court and her 
lands seized by eminent domain.

"I have told them that it is not for sale and 
they cannot come onto my land." Tamez is among 
the land owners where the Department of Homeland 
Security plans to erect 70 miles of intermittent, 
double-layered fencing in the Rio Grande Valley.

Tamez said the United States government wants 
access to all of her land, which is on both sides 
of a levee. "Then they will decide where to build 
the wall. It could be over my house." Tamez said 
that she may only have three acres, but it is all she has.

Tamez' daughter Margo Tamez, poet and scholar, 
said, "We are not a people of walls. It is 
against our culture to have walls. The Earth and 
the River go together. We must be with the river. 
We must be with this land. We were born for this land."

Margo Tamez said the United Nations Declaration 
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples now 
guarantees the right of Indigenous Peoples to their traditional territories.

Rosie Molano Blount, Chiricahua Apache from Del 
Río said the Chiricahua Apache have proudly 
served in the United States military."We are 
proud to be Americans," Blount said, adding that 
the Chiricahua have always supported the United States government.

Now, with the increasing harassment of people in 
the border zone, Blount said the people have had enough.

"Ya Basta! Enough is enough!" Blount said, 
repeating the phrase that became the battle cry 
of the Zapatistas in Mexico struggling for Indigenous Peoples' rights.

Blount said there needs to be dialogue concerning 
the issues at the border, but not forced 
militarization or a border wall. She also 
directed a comment at Homeland Security Secretary 
Michael Chertoff. "Don't come here and divide our 
families Chertoff. You believe this is the only way to do things."

Michael Paul Hill, San Carlos Apache from 
Arizona, described how US border agents violated 
and molested his sacred items, including a sacred 
stone, Eagle feather and drum used in ceremonies while crossing the border.

"They called me a foreigner." Hill described how 
Border Agents told him that he might "get away" 
with crossing the border in Nogales, Arizona, 
with ceremonial items that were not manhandled, but not in Texas.

After participating in a an Apache ceremony in 
Mexico, when Hill and other Apaches reentered the 
United States, a SWAT team in full riot gear was 
waiting for them and interrogated them.

"It was incredibly frightening," said Margo Tamez 
who was also there. She pointed out how the 
escalating militarization at the border is 
terrorizing people as they go about their lives, 
working, with their families and in their ceremonies.

Isabel Garcia, cochair of Derechos Humanos in 
Tucson, Arizona, said,"Arizona has been a 
laboratory for the criminalizing of the border."

Pointing out that the Arizona border is the 
ancestral homeland of the Tohono O'odham, she 
said, "These borders are where people have lived 
since time immemorial." Garcia described the 
climate of militarization and abuse by Border Patrol agents.

Garcia pointed out that "cowboy" Border Agents 
ran over and killed18-year-old Tohono O'odham 
Bennett Patricio, Jr., while he was walking home 
in 2002. His mother, Angie Ramon, is still 
seeking justice for the death of her son.

Garcia also described the deaths from dehydration 
and heat in the Sonoran Desert in southern 
Arizona, where failed border policies have pushed 
migrants walking to a better life into treacherous desert lands.

"Two hundred and thirty-seven bodies were 
recovered in one year and most were on the tribal lands of the Tohono O'odham."

Further, Homeland Security recently waived 22 
federal laws to build the border wall in the San 
Pedro wilderness area in Arizona, she said. 
Attorney Peter Schey, director of the Center for 
Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los 
Angeles, said America does not need a"Berlin Wall."

Schey, renowned immigrant rights attorney, said 
Section 564 of the Homeland Security section of 
the Omnibus Appropriations Bill supersedes 
earlier legislation. Homeland Security is now 
required to have consultation with the 
communities. Schey said this means real 
consultation and real consideration of the 
community's input and data. Schey took his first 
action on behalf of Texas property owner Dr. 
Tamez on Monday, the same day that a 30-day 
notice to Texas land owners expired with the 
threat of eminent domain land seizures looming. 
Schey informed Homeland Security Secretary 
Michael Chertoff to halt the impending seizures of private lands.

Schey said Section 564 strikes provisions of the 
earlier Secure Fence Act and requires Homeland 
Security to consult with property owners like Dr. 
Tamez in order "to minimize the impact on the 
environment, culture, commerce, and quality of 
life" in areas considered for construction of the border fence.

"Furthermore, we believe that the new statutory 
provisions invalidate the Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement for fence construction published 
on the Department's behalf on November 16, 2007, 
pending completion of the required local 
consultations and other requirements as outlined 
in the Omnibus Bill," Schey told Chertoff in the letter.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security declared that it 
will use the principle of eminent domain to take 
possession of land currently held by private 
ownership. DHS has also presented waivers 
requesting that the landowners grant DHS 
personnel access to their property for a 
twelve-month period in order to conduct surveys 
for the intended construction project. The 
property owners were informed that if they do not 
voluntarily allow the federal agents on their 
property, the U.S. government will file a law 
suit so that Homeland Security authorities can 
have unimpeded access to private land, despite 
the owners' opposition. Homeland Security has 
stated that it will seize property even without 
the consent of landowners if necessary to 
complete the construction of the border fence. 
Many landowners, as well as civic leaders and 
human rights activists, oppose the U.S. 
government's plans to allow federal law 
enforcement agents access to private property. 
The government's demands and aggressive tactics 
are in conflict with settled rights of private 
property ownership and are particularly 
disconcerting to the Indigenous peoples' 
communities impacted by this undertaking.

The Texas communities along the international 
boundary zone are largely made up of Native 
Americans and of land grant heirs who have 
resided on inherited properties for hundreds of 
years. Homeland Security plans to complete the 
Texas portions of the fence before the end of the 2008 calendar year.

Homeland Security has already built walls along 
much of the California and Arizona international 
boundary zone with Mexico despite opposition from the government of Mexico.

Brenda Norrell is human rights editor for U.N. 
OBSERVER & International Report. She also runs 
the <http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/>Censored 
website. She can be reached at: 
<mailto:brendanorrell at gmail.com>brendanorrell at gmail.com




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