Hearing on UT Border-Wall Issue Being Webcast Today

WASHINGTON, D.C.

The University of Texas Working Group on Human Rights and the Border Wall has been granted a general hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, that will be held today (Wednesday, Oct  22). from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the commission’s Washington, D.C., headquarters and webcast to a global audience, UT announced.

The hearing marks the first time that the United States has been called to defend, in an international forum, the decision to construct a border wall on the Texas/Mexico border.

“It is unfortunate that we must go to an international forum to address the actions of the United States on its own border, but we are very pleased that this important human rights body will consider the extremely harmful impacts of the wall through a human rights lens,” said Denise Gilman, a clinical professor at the university’s School of Law and a member of the Working Group who will testify at the hearing.

The commission, made up  of seven independent jurists from across the Americas and the Caribbean, is the Organization of American States (OAS) body responsible for monitoring and ensuring respect for human rights in the Americas, including in the United States.

The Working Group, a multi-disciplinary group of faculty and students at UT at Austin and Brownville, submitted briefing papers to the commission in June 2008 and followed up in August 2008 with a request for a general hearing. The delegation also asked that a high-ranking policy official from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security participate in the hearing.

The Working Group will also offer a statistical analysis, spearheaded by Jeff Wilson, a UT Brownsville environmental studies professor, to support its position that the location of the wall disproportionately affects poor, less-educated Latino families. Margo Tamez, a Lipan Apache whose family has owned property, tracing back to land grants from the Spanish crown, that is directly affected by the wall will also testify. The Working Group also will provide written statements from the Kickapoo Tribe of Texas and Dr. Juliet Garcia, president of UT Brownsville.

Gilman said the delegation will seek a recommendation by the commission that the United States halt construction of the border wall in Texas, provide information to the commission and respond to the Working Group’s briefing papers.

The hearing will be at OAS, 1889 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Instructions for accessing live video or audio recordings are available at the commission’s Web site. www.cidh.org

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