[JURIST] US District Court Judge Larry Burns [US DOJ profile] ruled Monday that US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile; JURIST news archive] had authority to waive all laws and legal challenges to the building of the final 3.5 mile section of a border fence [JURIST report] running through coastal wetlands to the Pacific Ocean designed to thwart illegal immigrants [JURIST report] in the southwestern US. Congress approved the project in 1996 and Chertoff authorized expedited completion [DHS press release] of the final leg in September, invoking national security and immigration powers granted under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the REAL ID Act of 2005 [JURIST report]. A group of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club [advocacy website] had challenged the move, warning of environmental damage and arguing that Chertoff lacked authority for his actions, but Burns disagreed, ruling that Congress had delegated the authority to Chertoff in June. The border fence project has been repeatedly stalled by litigation. In a 2004 lawsuit, the Sierra Club said the project threatened the Tijuana River estuary, home to more than 370 migratory and native birds, six of them endangered. AP has more.