July 31st, 2008
A working group of faculty and students at the University of Texas at Austin is claiming that human rights are being violated by the United States’ construction of a wall on the Texas/Mexico border. The group submitted a series of briefing papers to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the “Commission”), an inter-governmental body of the Organization of American States (“OAS”). The Commission’s mandate is to examine and monitor compliance by member States of the OAS, including the United States, with human rights obligations established in international law.
The briefing papers are available at: http://www.utexas.edu/law/academics/centers/humanrights/publications/
“The planned wall along the Texas/Mexico border has not only engendered widespread opposition while remaining ineffective in fulfilling the United States government’s immigration control and anti-terrorism objectives, it also violates international human rights law,” said Denise Gilman, one of the members of the working group and a clinical professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
The working group has documented a series of human rights violations: Violations of the right to property and equal protection guaranteed under international human rights law. In addition, the U. S. government has not explained its unequal treatment of property owners on the border. Numerous small landowners will lose property to the wall while more lucrative developed properties are not included in the wall’s path. Based on a statistical analysis of demographic factors, Dr. Jeff Wilson, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at The University of Texas at Brownsville, concluded that: “The border wall and the necessary taking of property resulting from its construction will disproportionately impact poor Latino immigrant families.”