[News] Apaches Defend Homeland from Homeland Security
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 8 15:04:56 EST 2008
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
website. She can be reached at:
<mailto:brendanorrell at gmail.com>brendanorrell at gmail.com
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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