For Immediate Release
UTB/TSC and DHS agree to study border security alternatives
Brownsville, Texas, March 19, 2008-Brownsville Federal Judge Andrew Hanen dismissed a civil action suit Wednesday, March 19 against The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College after the University and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reached an agreement regarding access to University property.
Since last year, the university has pursued an agreement with DHS that would have allowed the agency to proceed with its goal of better securing the border while at the same time allowing the university to preserve the integrity of it’s educational mission.
“It has been my duty to be a good steward not only of the resources entrusted to me, but also of the values and principles of our democracy, said Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB/TSC President. “I believe that we have begun to make progress toward a meaningful, consultative conversation to achieve the mutual objectives of the DHS and of the University.
Under the terms of the agreement: (Click here for agreement)
-The University has agreed to a limited right of entry to DHS for six months for the purpose of studying the implementation of security measures on the border in the campus area.
-DHS will work with the University to jointly assess alternatives to a physical barrier.
-DHS has been authorized to conduct such studies, including environmental assessments, as required to consult with the University regarding alternatives to a physical barrier.
-DHS will consider the University's unique status as an institution of higher education and will take care to minimize impact on its environment and culture.
-DHS will conduct investigations to minimize the impact of any tactical infrastructure on commerce and the quality of life for the communities and residents located near the University.
-DHS will take all reasonable action to promote safety and minimize any impact on the University’s educational activities.
-DHS will coordinate all entry to the campus and give prior notice of all activities on campus to Campus Police.
-DHS has agreed that should damage to University property occur they will repair or make an appropriate fair market value settlement.
-DHS has agreed to hire contractors that carry sufficient liability insurance.
-DHS has agreed to not clear land, mow grass or otherwise alter the physical landscape of University property without the University's consent.
The University retains the right to assert statutory and/or constitutional challenges to future government actions affecting University property.
“We are pleased that we have an opportunity to participate in meaningful discussions with DHS as we continue to seek a mutually acceptable solution that will allow us to maintain our fundamental mission in higher education, García said. “We hope to reach agreement on the most appropriate method to secure the border area near the University.
The agreement, negotiated between DHS officials and attorneys with the UT System and Texas Southmost College, was presented at a scheduled hearing Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Brownsville.