[JURIST] Two environmental advocacy groups Thursday filed an amended complaint [press release] challenging the constitutionality of the Real ID Act [PDF text] in response to actions taken by US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff last month. Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club [advocacy websites] argued that Chertoff violated the constitutional separation of powers by using his power under the Real ID Act to circumvent a federal district court decision [JURIST reports] that ordered the delay of 1.5 miles of fence construction on the San Pedro river along part of the Arizona-Mexico border. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle [official profile] of the US District Court for the District of Columbia held that the federal government did not take into account the environmental impact [AP report] of that portion of the fence. The San Pedro river is considered a National Conservation Area (NCA) by the government. AP has more.
President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 [PDF text; JURIST report] in October 2006. The legislation authorizes the construction of approximately 700 miles of fencing along the 2,000 mile US-Mexican border. Critics of the fence include locals in border communities, who feel that the the federal government has not addressed their concerns that a border fence would interfere with irrigation, harm wildlife, as well as disrupt Mexican consumers and investors that positively contribute to the local economy. In May, the International Boundary and Water Commission said that construction of the fence could violate a boundary treaty [JURIST report] between the United States and Mexico.