August 02, 2008
UT-Brownsville wins concessions on border fence

Good for them.

A federal court agreement reached Thursday with the Department of Homeland Security removes the threat of an 18-foot fence splitting the campus of the University of Texas-Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.

Instead, the federal agency agreed to accept the bolstering of an existing fence along the university perimeter and use the site to test and study technological alternatives to a physical barrier to curb illegal immigration.

"DHS will not build a fence on the university campus," UTB/TSC President Juliet Garcia said. "They will not condemn or seek to condemn the land."

Students and other protesters waiting outside the courthouse cheered the news on one of many battlefronts over the government's controversial effort to build border fencing.

The agreement comes weeks after U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sent DHS back to the table. Hanen told the agency that it had not complied with his March order to exchange ideas with the university on both security and campus life.


The government's original plan would have lopped off about 180 acres of university land, putting remnants of a historic battlefield and the university golf course on the Mexican side of the fence.

Some critics asked if students or staff would have to show passports when they crossed the barrier to practice their golf game.

"There will be no impediment to the golf course," Garcia said.

"There will be no gate. There will no checkpoints. There will be none of that."

According to the proposed agreement, the university will be responsible for repairing the existing fence and raising it to 10 feet.

"It can be a very friendly fence," Garcia said. "I kind of see it with bougainvillea and vine climbing all over it."

It will be up to the Border Patrol to install surveillance technology along it and patrol it.

The agreement would also have DHS drop its eminent domain lawsuit against the school, as well as plans for a "floating" fence that could be moved should the university get approval to expand south toward the Rio Grande.

There's nothing that can be done to make the fence a good idea, but this will at least make it a less bad idea. I'm very glad to see Judge Hanen bring DHS to heel, not just for UT-B but also for many other landowners along the border. The Observer and South Texas Chisme have more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 02, 2008 to National news
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