An Arizona congressman and a green group have teamed up to sue the Trump administration over its plan to build a wall along the southern border, claiming it would violate federal environmental law.
The Center for Biological Diversity, along with Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva filed a lawsuit Wednesday that argues the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must draft a review to examine the environmental impacts of the wall before any construction can begin.
The environmental group says its suit is the first specifically against the border wall since President Donald Trump issued an executive order in January authorizing its construction, The Hill reported. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, seeks a judicial order requiring DHS and Customs and Border Protection to prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” on the effects of border enforcement operations. (RELATED: Border Wall Prototypes To Be Built Near San Diego Crossing)
The center’s executive director, Kierán Suckling, says a border wall will “destroy the incredible communities and wild landscapes along the border.”
“Endangered species like jaguars and ocelots don’t observe international boundaries and should not be sacrificed for unnecessary border militarization,” he said in a statement. “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.”
A CBP spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing agency policy not to discuss pending litigation.
A provision of the 2005 federal REAL ID Act gives the Homeland Security secretary authority to waive any laws “necessary to ensure expeditious construction” of barriers and roads along the border. The lawsuit argues, however, that the government is still required to evaluate the environmental impacts of a border wall, a process that could delay construction by several months or even years.
“These laws exist to protect the health and well-being of our people, our wildlife, and the places they live,” Grijalva said. “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.”
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