Received this release from the No Border Wall group.
For Immediate Release
February 6, 2009
Contacts: Elizabeth Garcia 956-459-3205
Merriwood Ferguson 956-371-5111Brownsville Citizens Urge City Commission: Don’t Give Away Hope Park in a Backroom Deal with DHS
After learning that Brownsville city officials may be considering a deal to give away city property to the Department of Homeland Security in order to build the border wall, citizen activists have banded together to call for transparency and public input in the city’s dealings with DHS. The Coalition of Amigos in Solidarity and Action, or CASA, a coalition of church communities and social activist groups, and No Border Wall, a coalition of groups and individuals opposed to the border wall, are urging the Brownsville City Commission to publicly disclose the details of any proposed contract with DHS and give the community at large an opportunity to respond in a public hearing before any agreement is signed.
“These are our elected officials, and they should be representing the concerns of their constituents,” said Elizabeth Garcia, founder of CASA. “This community is still overwhelmingly opposed to the border wall, and our city government should support that sentiment.” Garcia added if the city must compromise with DHS, it should meet them in the courtroom like the University of Texas at Brownsville and dozens of landowners have done.
“We hope that, just as UTB did, our commissioners will fight before they compromise. It will be wrong for them to reach a deal behind closed doors, without informing the public and without giving the community at large the opportunity for some input,” Garcia said.
Widespread local opposition led both the City of Brownsville and Cameron County to pass resolutions against the border wall. As recently as last month, the city wrote a friend-of-the-court brief supporting El Paso in its lawsuit challenging Homeland Security’s efforts to build the border wall.
But Cameron County voluntarily gave county land to DHS to build the border wall, and last summer the Brownsville City Commission considered a contract, drafted by the Army Corps of Engineers, that would have turned over $93,500 worth of municipal property to build the wall. One clause of the contract would have allowed the federal government to condemn the city’s property, and forced the city to assist the government in the condemnation rather than fight to keep their property. When word of the contract was leaked, outraged Brownsville residents packed the city commission meeting, forcing them to table the deal.
No Border Wall and CASA are concerned that the City Commission may be trying to quietly revive that contract, or one that similarly helps DHS build the border wall through Brownsville .. Of particular concern is Hope Park, the downtown city park overlooking the river that has become a symbol for Brownsville ’s opposition to the border wall.
Merriwood Ferguson, a Brownsville resident and No Border Wall member says that elected officials who refuse to stand up for the citizenry against the border wall “have no backbone.” Ferguson adds, “The landowners who are standing up for their rights against the condemnation of their property have set a precedent which the Brownsville City Commission should follow. We did not elect them to have them give up Hope Park without a fight.”
NO BORDER WALL COALITION