A leftist environmentalist nonprofit and a Democrat Arizona congressman filed a lawsuit that could halt or slow construction of President Trump’s promised border wall. The group wants an impact to determine any harm caused to jaguars and Mexican gray wolves by a barrier and additional border agents.
In February, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John F. Kelly ordered the hiring of 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 500 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) officers, reported Breitbart Texas. DHS also discontinued the Obama Administration’s “catch and release” program known as the “Priority Enforcement Program” (PEP).
The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, whose website includes a banner “#EARTH2TRUMP: RESIST,” “Saving Polar Bears,” and “Endangered Species Condoms,” filed the lawsuit on Wednesday asking for a review of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of a border wall.
“Trump’s border wall will divide and destroy the incredible communities and wild landscapes along the border,” claims the Center’s executive director, Kieran Suckling.
The nonprofit’s ED added, “Endangered species like jaguars and ocelots don’t observe international boundaries and should not be sacrificed for unnecessary border militarization. Their survival and recovery depends on being able to move long distances across the landscape and repopulate places on both sides of the border where they’ve lived for thousands of years.”
U.S. Rep. Paul Grijalva (D-AZ) is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. He released a statement after it was filed saying:
American environmental laws are some of the oldest and strongest in the world, and they should apply to the borderlands just as they do everywhere else. These laws exist to protect the health and well-being of our people, our wildlife, and the places they live.
Grijalva, who says his district includes 300 miles of the U.S./Mexico Border added, “Trump’s wall – and his fanatical approach to our southern border – will do little more than perpetuate human suffering while irrevocably damaging our public lands and the wildlife that depend on them.”
The environmental group and the Arizona Democrat are seeking a judicial mandate to require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement.”
The congressman says that road construction, off-road vehicle patrols, lighting, base camps and checkpoints on the border would “significantly impact the borderlands environment.”
The plaintiffs also charge that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now DHS) has not updated the programmatic environmental impact statement for the U.S./Mexico Border enforcement program since 2001.
The statement released by Rep. Grijalva concludes, “Meanwhile, the number of undocumented migrants moving through the southwestern borderlands is at a historic low, and the border is more secure than it’s ever been.”
The plaintiffs filed the legal action in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.