WASHINGTON—This week, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva submitted testimony to the House Homeland Security Appropriations Committee as part of Member Day. Member Day allows Members of Congress to highlight their priorities for inclusion in upcoming appropriations bills. In his testimony, Rep. Grijalva highlighted the ongoing destruction of Tohono O’odham sacred sites at the border and DHS usage of the waiver authority under the REAL ID Act of 2005 that facilitates it. He called for legislative language to be included in the bill to prohibit the construction of the border wall and require DHS to consult with the Tohono O’odham Nation as required by the federal trust responsibility.
“Executive order 13175 “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,” outlines regular and meaningful tribal consultation is essential to maintaining and strengthening government-to-government relationships with tribes. Additionally, DHS’s Tribal Consultation Policy reiterates these principles. This process is imperative to ensuring that the United States of America ensures that any federal project does not harm important natural or cultural resources. Unfortunately, the REAL ID Act of 2005 authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to waive all legal requirements, including tribal consultation when constructing the border wall and roads. This broad authority provisioned to a single member of the executive branch has been highly debated and even deemed unconstitutional. This administration continues to use its waiver authority at an unprecedented rate, it has been used 17 from August 2017 to February 2020. In the past the waiver was only used 5 times prior to this Administration. The current use of this waiver to avoid the federal government trust responsibilities to tribes is reckless and counter to the Department’s own policy. We should not support this overreach of the federal government in tribal sovereignty.”
Read Rep. Grijalva’s full testimony here.
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