An environmentalist group has filed another lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop waivers filed by the administration in its efforts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, records show.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson-based environmentalist group, filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging wall waivers filed in March that would speed-up construction for a border wall by waiving environmental laws that normally delay or stall the construction.
The lawsuit, filed by CBD, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, in U.S. District Court in Washington, challenges the waivers that would affect land in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Specifically, the lawsuit challenges the administration’s use of $7.2 billion from the Department of Defense to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing they did so without congressional approval.
In February 2019, the groups sued the administration over the president’s emergency declaration to pay for his border walls. Both lawsuits argue that the president violated the U.S. Constitution by overstepping his executive authority and sidestepping Congress to fund wall construction along the southern border.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday specifically addresses the fiscal year 2020 transfer, the other half of the now $13 billion the administration has taken to build more border walls along the border.
Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the waivers are another example of the administration using his authority to turn the borderlands into “sacrifice zones,” according to a news release from CBD.
“He’s done an end-run around Congress and completely overstepped his authority to declare a so-called emergency. Meanwhile jaguars and other rare wildlife along the border are being pushed a step closer to extinction.”
Just last month, several more waivers were filed — these in Starr County — and would impact the cities of Salineno, Rio Grande City, Roma and La Grulla.
Those waivers would allow for construction of physical barriers and walls without the formal environmental studies and other procedural steps typical of this type of construction along the border.
The “project areas” are the following: west boundary of Salineno, Texas, along the Rio Grande, south and east to the southern boundary of Salineno, west of the Los Negros Creek Tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge following along the river, west of Rio Grande City extending east about 215 feet southeast of the international bridge.
In addition to the recently filed lawsuit, CBD, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Legal Defense Fund also sued the Trump administration to challenge waivers that sweep aside public health and safety laws to speed construction of border walls from the Pacific Ocean to the Rio Grande Valley. A petition asking the Supreme Court to review federal court rulings in those cases is pending.