October 03, 2007
Border mayors tell feds to stay off their property

Another front in the fight against the border fence: Mayors in the affected towns are denying access to city-owned property.

Mayors in Brownsville, Del Rio and El Paso have denied or limited access to some parts of their city property to Department of Homeland Security workers assigned to begin surveys or other preliminary work on the fence Congress has authorized to keep out illegal immigrants.

Eagle Pass has denied a request from federal officials to build a portion of the wall within its city limits.

Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada said Tuesday that he refused two weeks ago to sign documents granting federal workers permission to begin work if it was to be on city property. Del Rio granted limited access and El Paso allowed workers only on its outskirts, said Monica Weisberg Stewart of the Texas Border Coalition, a group that represents local officials.

"This is exercising our rights. This is our property," Ahumada said. "We are not going to make it easy for them."

In Eagle Pass, Mayor Chad Foster said his city has refused the U.S. Border Patrol's request to build 1 1/4 miles of fencing as part of a project that includes light towers and a new road for border patrols.


Brownsville, a city in South Texas of about 170,000 people across the Rio Grande from Matamoros, Mexico, said the city also was considering a lawsuit against the federal government to prevent the fence's construction on city property. City leaders met with attorneys Tuesday night about that possibility but decided to wait two more weeks before making a decision.

"If we have to we'll take it all the way up to the Supreme Court," Ahumada said about a potential lawsuit.


David Crump, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, said for now, land owners can keep anybody out of their property for any reason.

"But it's subject to being breached by legislation and either the Texas Legislature or Congress can give power to an agency to do it," said Crump, who specializes in real property law.

I would hope that any effort to push through legislation that would require the cities to let the feds in would be thwarted. I'll be pretty pissed if not. We'll see how far the mayors can go with this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 03, 2007 to National news

It used to be: "Hi, I'm a democrat and I'm here to help". Now it's: "Hi, I'm a republican and I'm here to help". The border folks no doubt are thinking about that secessionists meeting in Tennessee http://arunaurl.com/15lc

Posted by: Charles Hixon on October 3, 2007 5:32 PM

This is Texas we are talking about, right? A Red State. Illegal immigration is an important issue here, but border town mayors want to stop the fence. Ok, I'll admit that I am confused.

Posted by: Dennis on October 4, 2007 3:18 AM

How about this - you don't want the feds on your property, then don't take any federal money.

Posted by: G-Man on October 4, 2007 3:33 PM