January 30, 2019

Udall, Heinrich Introduce Bills to Safeguard NM Residents and Wildlife Against Trump Border Wall

WASHINGTON – Today, as negotiations began in the Senate and House to forge a border security deal, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced three bills to protect the private property rights of residents and safeguard important habitat for wildlife, tribal interests, and religious freedoms in New Mexico’s border region. 

“We need to protect New Mexico's landowners, landscape, and way of life, and stand up for our state's proud border communities against out-of-touch attacks from this administration. The Trump administration’s thoughtless and reckless land-grab means homes could be confiscated, farms and livelihoods ruined, neighbors cut off from one another, Tribal sovereignty upended, and endangered species and habitat lost forever if the administration has its way. As a border state senator, I will continue to fight against the president’s wall in Congress. The shutdown showed that this administration will stop at nothing in its obsession with a border wall, and these bills will take much needed action to restore basic due process to eminent domain, protect the most sensitive wildlife areas from border barrier construction, and subject Trump’s wall to the same laws that govern other federal projects. We need to invest in smart border security that actually meets our needs on-the-ground, not a political symbol that violates our values and could irreparably damage our state," said Udall. 

“The Trump administration has failed to engage with our border communities in their reckless attempt to fast-track an unnecessary border wall. New Mexicans understand the complex on-the-ground reality of our borderlands and they are rightly alarmed about the potential impacts of President Trump’s proposed wall,” said Heinrich. “Without consulting stakeholders or studying the impacts to our environment and our border region, President Trump’s border wall proposal fails to recognize the smart investments needed to address the real challenges we face along our southern border. We must ensure the property rights of private landholders, safeguard tribal sovereignty, and protect critical wildlife habitat along our southern border.”

The legislation introduced today includes:

  • Full Fair and Complete Exchange Act: Legislation would prohibit the federal government from taking possession of land for border infrastructure until all persons or entities entitled to compensation are compensated in full. This amendment ensures that the federal government provides compensation on a timely basis for land acquired for border infrastructure, and in the case of State land that relevant stakeholders will be consulted and approve. 

The text for this bill can be found here.

  • Limitation on Border Infrastructure in Wildlife Areas:Legislation would prohibit the construction of certain elements of the physical barrier along the southern border in national wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and related areas. The text for this bill can be found here.

The text for this bill can be found here.

  • Repealing the Vast Legal Waiver Authority for Construction of a Wall or Barriers along the Southern Border: Legislation would remove unprecedented authority to waive any and all federal laws for construction of border barriers and ensure that impacts to the environment, wildlife, religious sites, Tribal interests, and cultural artifacts are analyzed and minimized. The blanket waiver provision included in the 2005 Real ID Act grants the Secretary broad authority to circumvent “all legal requirements” including critical environmental laws—such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act—to fast-track border wall construction. To date DHS has waived nearly 50 federal laws to construct border barriers.  

The text for this bill can be found here

Congressional negotiators in a conference committee from both parties in the House and Senate Appropriations Committee held their first meeting today to determine a path forward for funding border security measures and the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year. President Trump has threatened to shut down the government again or unilaterally declare a national emergency if he is not satisfied with an agreement reached on border security. Funding for the federal agencies that just reopened is set to expire on February 15.