A multi-disciplinary working group of faculty and students at the University of Texas at Austin claimed on Friday, June 13, 2008, that human rights are being violated by the United States through construction of a wall on the Texas/Mexico border. The working 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”) composed of seven independent experts. 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 full text of the briefing papers are available at:
“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 analyzed and documented a series of human rights violations taking place as a result of plans to construct segments of wall along the Texas/Mexico border. They include:
Given the gravity of the human rights situation created by the construction of a wall on the Texas/Mexico border, the working group is requesting that the Commission immediately consider the issue during its July 2008 period of sessions and initiate an investigation. The working group has further requested that the Commission hold a general hearing on the Texas/Mexico border wall during its October 2008 period of sessions.
“While it is a shame that we must go before an international body to address the actions of the United States on its own border, I’m pleased that this crucial human rights perspective on the wall will be brought to bear and I am hopeful that the United States will reverse its course of action,” stated Margo Tamez, a member of the Lipan Apache community who has been an outspoken opponent of the wall, which will run through land that has been in her family’s possession for more than two centuries.
The Working Group on Human Rights and the Border Wall is a multi-disciplinary collective of faculty and students at the University of Texas at Austin, which has gathered to analyze the human rights impact of the construction of a border wall on the Texas/Mexico border. This project is facilitated through the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas School of Law and is supported by the University of Texas Office of Thematic Initiatives and Community Engagement. The Working Group on Human Rights and the Border Wall includes faculty and students from the UT Geography Department, the UT Anthropology Department, the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, Environmental Clinic and Rapoport Center. The Working Group is collaborating with affected individual property owners, indigenous communities, environmental groups, Environmental Sciences faculty at the University of Texas at Brownsville and other academics and advocates in carrying out work on this project. In May 2008, a delegation of the Working Group traveled to the Rio Grande Valley area of the Texas/Mexico border to conduct fact finding regarding the impact of the border wall on human rights and to speak with individuals affected by the construction of the wall.
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