WASHINGTON, D.C. — A motion for a preliminary injunction was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court by conservation organizations to block the construction of the border wall through the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA).
Attorneys for the organizations worked fast to submit the filing prior to any forward movement on the the wall construction. The planned 30-foot high, bollard–style barrier will block wildlife migration, damage ecosystems and harm border communities, according to the claim. The lawsuit also claims the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security lack authority to waive the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act and other laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and wildlife in the borderlands.
“It’s senseless to let bulldozers rip a permanent scar through our borderlands’ wildlife refuges and national monuments before the court decides whether the waiver is legal,” said Jean Su, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s ignoring laws and diverting funds to build this destructive border wall. His grotesque barrier would destroy some of the border’s most spectacular and biologically diverse places. We’ll do everything in our power to stop that.”
If this latest filing is successful, wall construction would be blocked again until U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rules on the merits of the underlying lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s waiver authority of environmental laws. Without action from Jackson, wall construction in Arizona could begin later this month, the attorneys noted.
Bryan Bird, southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, stated, “Every American should be outraged that the border wall in Arizona will be built across some of our most iconic national wildlife refuges and national park lands. If the wall is constructed through these spectacular landscapes it will disrupt migration for animals like the Mexican gray wolf, the jaguar, the Sonoran pronghorn and the bighorn sheep.”
“It will tear through lands so precious that Congress chose to protect them for all American’s posterity and enjoyment. Defenders will continue to fight to stop this abuse.”
Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said, “These most recent waivers of vital environmental and animal-protection laws demonstrate the administration’s continued disregard for wildlife, including the most fragile species that could be pushed to extinction by these projects.”
“Building a wall that cuts through the heart of vital federally protected forests, wildlife refuges and conservation areas will have devastating effects on these critical areas and the wildlife that calls these areas their home, which is why we are asking the court to immediately enjoin these border wall–related projects.”
The CBD and allies filed the first border–related lawsuit in 2017 in U.S. District Court in Tucson, backed by U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva. The object was to hold the Trump administration to the requirements to complete a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of its border–enforcement program. All of these suits are pending.
A 2017 study by the CBD identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be threatened by wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
The groups claim the intent to build the wall through these sensitive areas goes beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands. They see the U.S.–Mexico border wall “as part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.”
Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter Sandy Bahr noted, “We are not giving up our fight to stop these destructive walls and continue our work to protect people, communities, wildlife and our precious Arizona waters.”