UN CERD Expresses Concern over US-Texas Border Wall Discriminatory Impact on Indigenous Peoples

LATEST NEWS

Addresses US Government Need to Comply with Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Margo Tamez margo.tamez@ubc.ca
Ariel Dulitzky (512) 529-6520  ADulitzky@law.utexas.edu

Brownsville, Texas –  The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures has expressed “concern regarding the potentially discriminatory impact that the construction of a border wall might have on the Kikapoo, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Lipan Apache indigenous communities,” in response to a petition from the Texas-Mexico Border Wall region which was under review during it’s 82nd session.

In a letter March 1, 2013 to Betty E. King, U.S. Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations, UN CERD Chair Alexei Avtonomov stated, “In particular, the Committee is concerned by the situation of the Lipan Apache, a tribe which reportedly remains Federally unrecognized, given the information received that the construction of the wall through its land has allegedly damaged ancestral burial sites, reduced the tribe’s access to elders and other knowledge keepers, led to severe decline in biodiversity, and may lead to the disappearance of the tribal identity altogether as the community may be forced to leave the land.

“Moreover, the Committee is concerned that... the border wall has been constructed without the free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities, and that no effective judicial remedies or compensation have been provided to date.” The letter continues on to request that the U.S. provides updated and detailed information with regard to the impact of the Texas-Mexico border wall on the rights of indigenous communities, and any measures envisaged to reverse the negative impact of the construction of the the border wall.

Says petition co-author Dr. Margo Tamez, citizen of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, and Faculty of Indigenous Studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, “As an Indigenous scholar working on this effort to raise critical awareness, and as a first-hand witness to the suffering of Indigenous elders, families and communities in the path of the border wall, the CERD's request to the U.S. government is an affirmation of the importance of Indigenous peoples' efforts to promote paths and transitional spaces of inquiry for truth and justice.  Meaningful partnerships of trust and respect are crucial in order for this process to address Indigenous peoples' core concerns and to halt the inter-generational harms they have endured.”

Petition co-author Ariel Dulitzky, Clinical Professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and Director of the Human Rights Clinic of the University of Texas at Austin, says, “CERD has made a clear demand for proper consultation and consideration of the indigenous communities in the border area. We call upon the U.S. Government to pay close attention to CERD’s request in terms of reversing the negative impact of the border wall and securing the rights of indigenous peoples to access their lands, resources and holy sites, to be properly consulted, and to receive compensation.”

A statement issued by Daniel Romero, General Council Chairman for the The Lipan Apache Band of Texas (Ndé) states, “We ask that the Obama Administration and Congress to incorporate CERD’s demands for proper consultation and consideration of the indigenous peoples and communities of the borderlands region. We request that the U.S. Government be inclusive of Ndés’ request in current immigration reform and proposal of the border lands policies that have negatively influenced the Ndé way of life.”

###

Lipan Apache Women Defense http://lipancommunitydefense.wordpress.com

Lipan Apache Band of Texas http://www.lipanapachebandoftexas.com