Politics

Trump’s Border Wall Threatens Jaguars, Lawsuit Alleges

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Three conservation organizations sued the Trump administration Tuesday claiming that the U.S.-Mexico border wall threatens the local jaguar population.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. The lawsuit specifically challenges six waivers that allowed the administration to skip environmental review processes to streamline construction projects.

The conservation groups allege that the barriers will wall off the local wildlife populations that live along the U.S. southern border from portions of their habitat.

“Construction of a wall that cuts through the heart of vitally protected refuges, forests and conservation areas will have devastating effects on wildlife, such as jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and ocelots, who call the border their home,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement.

MEXICO-US-BORDER-WALL

A view of the border wall between Mexico and the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on January 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Herika MARTINEZ (Photo credit should read HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

“Using national emergency powers to fund construction of a border wall is illegal and misguided, particularly when the nation is currently facing a real national emergency stemming from the type of outbreak that occurs from disrupting the natural world,” Wells said, referring to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This is far from the first time environmental organizations have sued the Trump administration in a bid to slow or stop border wall progress.

Since construction began, the administration has faced multiple challenges from these three same organizations, the Sierra Club, and other environmental groups. Even the National Butterfly Association has gone to federal court over the wall, arguing in 2019 that the barriers threatened the local butterfly population.

However, repeated litigation appears not to be slowing down President Donald Trump’s goal of building 400-plus miles of wall before the end of 2020.

Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott announced the completion of 181 miles of border wall Monday, and revealed that another 190 miles are currently under construction. In fact, not even the coronavirus pandemic has significantly slowed impact on construction progress, with administration officials deeming construction as essential. (RELATED: The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Not Stopping Border Wall Construction)

The White House has obtained roughly $15 billion for the border wall project thus far, a majority of which has been diverted from the Department of Defense. These funds, according to CBP’s latest projections, can cover the costs of about 730 miles of new border wall.

Beyond any alleged environmental impact, the Center for Biological Diversity claimed in its press release that the border wall is part of a “larger strategy” of border militarization that affects human rights. The organization also claimed that the wall “impedes the natural migrations of people,” despite legal migration still allowed under the Trump administration.

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