Virginia DMVs prepare for Long Lines –c/o WVRA.com
The REAL ID act will require all Virginians to go to the DMV once their driver’s licenses expire to get a more “secure” card. The federal government is pushing the change so that driver’s licenses can be used as de facto national ID cards.
FOLLOW REAL ID
In the last several days, there have been numerous reports about border fence construction damaging the environment. These findings are putting pressure on the DHS to uphold their bargain to include strict environmental oversights to their expeditious construction. The incomplete border fence is an issue not just affecting environmental lands, but land owners fighting with emminent domain claims. The expansion of the Border Fence was greenlighted as a provision in the Real ID Act of 2005.
SAN DIEGO : Duncan Hunter Amended Real ID Act to Include Border Fence
c/o San Diego Times
“If people want to come here, they are going to come,” he said. “I see it as a barrier that needs to lead to a solution. That’s the only way I can face it.” – Mike McCoy, Estuary Activist.
At first, the two agreed on the idea of a border fence to stem illegal immigration traffic through Imperial Beach. From Hunter’s point of view, the fence would keep undocumented migrants and drug smugglers out of the country. From McCoy’s, it would keep the estuary from being hammered by foot traffic.
For Duncan Hunter, who lives in Alpine and leaves Congress after an unsuccessful bid last year for the Republican presidential nomination, it’s the achievement of a goal that became a personal crusade. SEE THE FRUIT OF HUNTER’S WORK HERE
“It became clear that we would never get permission,” he said. “So we wrote the waiver language into the Real ID Act.”
The purpose of the Real ID Act of 2005 was to impose federal security standards on state identification cards. Hunter added language that would allow the Homeland Security secretary to supersede laws stopping fence construction.
“The security of the country is the primary interest,” he said. “In carrying out that interest, the environment can be accommodated.”
Hunter said ponds and structures can arrest silt that results from the operation. McCoy hopes there will be such protections but isn’t confident.
His best hope, McCoy said, is that if the fence comes down some day, what damage occurs can be repaired. He also has given quite a bit of thought to the fences he once thought were a good idea.
FRIENDSHIP PARK: Border Park Visitors Detained and Aggressively Questioned
c/o North County Times
“We ask our policy makers and public officials to visit Friendship Park, and witness the gash the border inflicts on the environment and the people of the San Diego and Tijuana communities.” – Christian Ramirez, Border visitor detained for filming at Friendship Park
For generations, friends and families from San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, have gathered peacefully in Friendship Park at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Now Border Patrol agents threaten this tradition by questioning and detaining people who visit this special public space. On Aug. 5, I was detained and then arrested while filming there. Later that night, I was released with no charges filed against me.
On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case presented by environmentalists, who argued that the continued construction of the border wall along the international divide between Mexico and the U.S. violated nearly 40 federal laws and regulations, including the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. A few days later, construction began immediately along an area adjacent to the Tijuana River Estuary, which was declared “a wetland of international importance” by the United Nations Ramsar Convention in 2005.
The American Friends Service Committee has been documenting the impact of the border wall construction along the Tijuana River Valley area, just west of the San Ysidro International Port of Entry. The Friends are also tracking incidents of harassment against visitors to the park.
Environmental advocates had their concerns tabled when Congress passed the REAL ID Act, which allows the secretary of Homeland Security to set aside all environmental laws that could impede building the border wall.
MISSION, Texas – Environmentalists Warn of a Future Where Laws No Longer Apply
c/o Brownsville Herald
“In the past, environmental laws have enabled us to work out compromises (with federal authorities),” said Jim Chapman, chairman of the Sierra Club’s Lower Rio Grande Valley Chapter.
National representatives of the Sierra Club warned on Friday that the Bush administration’s proposed relaxation of the Endangered Species Act could lead to an ongoing disregard of environmental laws, with results echoing construction of the U.S.-Mexico border fence.
Under the new provisions, federal agencies would have the authority to independently determine whether construction projects will impact endangered species, advocates warn.
On Friday, after spotting the rare Mexican bluewing and Malachite butterflies in the North American Butterfly Association Park, Sierra Club members visited a border fence construction site near Donna, where bulldozers unearthed vegetation and replaced shrubs with metal girders. The construction illustrated their concerns.
According to the Sierra Club, the Rio Grande Valley is home to the third largest number of endangered species in the country, with 21 species federally listed as threatened or endangered.
TUCSON, AZ – Border fence design blasted as cause of flooding c/o Austin Statesman
“While the Bush administration may claim it’s taking environmental impacts of the border wall into consideration, building wire mesh fences across washes prone to debris-laden floods is fundamentally flawed,” said Robin Silver, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Flooding blamed on a border security fence in southwestern Arizona shows the structure is being built too quickly and without regard for the environment, critics say.
Debris and water backed up at the fence during a storm July 12, leading to flooding at the port of entry at Lukeville, Ariz., and Sonoyta, Sonora, and at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
“One of the reasons for it was the debris that accumulated on the fence itself,” said Lee Baiza, superintendent of the monument.
Environmental groups have criticized how the Army Corps of Engineers and federal contractors have designed and built a range of fencing and vehicle barriers along the Arizona-Mexico border.
In particular, they’ve denounced Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s waiver of environmental laws to hasten construction of the 670 miles of fences and other barriers planned by year’s end along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
Defenders of Wildlife spokesman Matt Clark said what happened at Organ Pipe validates the warnings voiced to Homeland Security before construction started.
“It doesn’t take an expert hydrologist to anticipate the potential for these walls to become like dams,” Clark said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Denver, CO has a much better publicized welcome mat.