The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) expanded a lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for waving environmental regulations to construct prototype border walls near San Diego, Calif., according to a CBD press release.
Former DHS Secretary John Kelly waved three dozen environmental regulations, claiming President Donald Trump’s plan to cut off illegal immigration from Mexico qualified as a critical border security task, The Washington Times reports.
“The waiver highlights the Trump administration’s dangerous disregard for our environment and the rule of law,” CBD senior attorney Brian Segee said in a statement. “Trump is willing to throw environmental protections out the window to fulfil his divisive and destructive campaign promise.”
Building off a lawsuit CBD launched in June, the environmental group is claiming Kelly did not have the authority to wave federal protections for critical habitats, calling the move “unconstitutional.”
The DHS cites exemptions for border wall construction under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIR), according to a DHS press release.
Those exemptions faded, however, after a couple laws passed in 2005 and 2006 reinterpreted the IIRIR to phase out after 700 miles of border fencing was built, CBD claims.
“Homeland Security doesn’t have perpetual power to toss crucial conservation laws for any border project it wants until the end of time,” Segee said.
DHS, while not bound by environmental regulation, has promised to maintain the standards wherever possible.
“While the waiver eliminates DHS’s obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, the Department remains committed to environmental stewardship with respect to these projects,” a DHS press release stated.
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