Oversight: Hearing on "The Costs of Denying Border Patrol Access: Our Environment and Security"

Oversight and Investigations Date: Thursday, February 15, 2018 Time: 10:00 AM Location: Longworth House Office Building 1324


  • The Costs of Denying Border Patrol Access: Our Environment and Security


  • The Secretary of Homeland Security has unprecedented, sweeping, and possibly unconstitutional authority to waive “all legal requirements” in order to construct barriers (e.g., fences) and roads along the U.S.-Mexico border, including on federal lands. The Secretary has exercised this authority eight times since 2005, waiving a total of 48 different legal requirements.
  • Not satisfied with this authority, Congressional Republicans are proposing to expand it. Language in H.R. 4760 introduced by Representative Goodlatte would allow individual Border Patrol agents to decide whether any legal protections apply to their actions on federal land, including federal, state, and local laws. It would remove public notification requirement of those decisions, effectively denying any opportunity for accountability.
  • This denial of these rights—including the right to clean air, clean water, protections for Native American sacred sites, and the ability to participate in federal decision-making--disproportionately affects communities of color along the U.S.-Mexico border.


  1. Scott Nicol
    Volunteer Co-Chair, Borderlands Team
    Sierra Club
  2. Andrew Arthur
    Legal Fellow
    Center for Immigration Studies
  3. Brandon Judd
    National Border Patrol Council
  4. Dan Bell
    Nogales, AZ