SAN DIEGO, CA– On Monday April , a coalition of national conservation groups including Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and the Animal Legal Defense Fund has appealed the decision that allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to waive environmental and health laws to build a wall along our southern border. The groups challenged the impact waiving decades-old laws will have on threatened communities, wildlife and lands in San Diego and Imperial Valley, California.
Legal Document: Notice of Appeal
The groups released the following statements:
“The opposition to waiving these laws isn’t just ideological; these waivers are a concrete threat to communities and the places we live. This overreach infringes on the rights this country was founded on,” said Jill Holslin of the Sierra Club Borderlands Team. “Our country was built on immigration and our laws on protecting people, our environment, and safeguarding our freedoms.”
“Construction of the border wall would cause permanent and irreparable damage to over a hundred endangered and threatened species that call the border area their home,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The wall would literally divide animal families, interfere with breeding and migratory patterns and ultimately may result in the extinction of many of these species. The environmental laws the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has unilaterally waived were designed to prevent these very harms.”
“Building an impenetrable wall along our Southern border would be devastating for wildlife and communities that call this region home. Species like the jaguar and Mexican gray wolf depend on borderland habitat for survival and cutting off access to these routes would severely impact their chances of recovery. By waiving dozens of environmental laws, the Trump administration is jeopardizing our natural heritage for the sake of building a wall. We will not stand by and let that happen,” said Jason Rylander, senior staff attorney at Defenders of Wildlife.
On Jan. 25, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order, calling for the expansion of the border wall. In August, DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued waivers to construct 14 miles of border fencing near San Diego and 60 miles of new border and levee walls in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. In San Diego, DHS has waived 37 laws for its plans to extend and replace the existing border wall and to construct prototype wall configurations nearby.
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