[JURIST] The Texas Border Coalition [advocacy website], a group of Texan officials and business owners, filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Friday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] to enjoin the Department of Homeland Security from constructing a fence on the US-Mexico border. The lawsuit claims that government officials disobeyed a clause in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 [text], which requires the government to hold fair negotiation with landowners when seeking access to border land. The complaint, which specifically names US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] and other government officials, alleges that some smaller landowners accepted as little as $100 for access to their land and were not apprised of their legal rights during the negotiation process, while the land of wealthier owners was purposefully avoided. AP has more. The Houston Chronicle has local coverage.
In order to complete 353 additional miles of physical barriers along the border [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] by the end of the year, bringing the total to 670 miles, Chertoff has also invoked a number of legal waivers [JURIST report] authorized under Title I sec. 102 of the Real ID Act [PDF text], allowing the government to circumvent over 30 local and environmental laws which had blocked construction. In October 2007, Chertoff used a waiver [JURIST report] to override an October federal district court ruling that had halted fence construction in Arizona on environmental grounds.