As the House Appropriations Committee greenlights $5 billion for the US-Mexico border wall in their 2019 spending bill, Rachel’s Network has partnered with the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) to defend low-income border landowners and residents in court.

The grant will help leverage TCRP’s vast network of pro bono attorneys and expand their capacity to defend the dozens or more cases against the wall that are expected in the coming months. It will also inform landowners of their rights in eminent domain proceedings, including brochures and videos in English and Spanish.

“Millions of people live in the border region, including in the Rio Grande Valley. We have so much to offer the nation, but our communities have been stunted and overshadowed by an unnecessary buildup of enforcement,” said Efrén C. Olivares, Racial & Economic Justice Director with the Texas Civil Rights Project. “We are proud to partner with Rachel’s Network to create a more organized resistance to the border wall. To the administration we say: if you want our land to build a border wall, we’ll be ready to protect our community.”

This partnership complements the work that Rachel’s Network and Rachel’s Action Network has funded in the past year through the Sierra Club. That $50,000 grant has strengthened the grassroots coalition fighting the wall, funded a borderlands photo exhibit in Arizona and Washington, DC, and empowered advocates on Capitol Hill and at the border.

“The administration is tearing border communities, habitats, and families apart,” said Rachel’s Network President Fern Shepard. “The Texas Civil Rights Project is deeply connected to these communities and has the legal muscle to fight back. We are honored to support their vital work and encourage others to do the same.”

The genesis for the Rachel’s Network borderlands work began at the Rachel’s Network Annual Meeting in March 2017, when Member Diana Hadley of Tucson shared the impacts she’s seen at the border, particularly the fragmenting of vital wildlife corridors, and the worrisome scale of proposed projects.

“I’m grateful that my fellow Rachel’s Network members recognize the unique and priceless beauty of this place and have stood up to defend it. I welcome others to join in this effort,” said Diana.

Rachel’s Network, a nonprofit organization named in Rachel Carson’s honor, promotes women as impassioned leaders and agents of change dedicated to the stewardship of the earth. The Network builds productive alliances among members and offers services that empower them to lead.

The Texas Civil Rights Project uses legal advocacy to empower Texas communities and create policy change. In its twenty-six year history, the Texas Civil Rights Project has brought thousands of strategic lawsuits to protect and expand voting rights, challenge the injustices in our broken criminal justice system, and advance racial and economic justice.

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