The National Butterfly Center in Texas will soon have a hole plowed through it, with bulldozers preparing to clear a path through the wildlife sanctuary to make way for Donald Trump’s border wall.
The wildlife refuge along the Rio Grande is right along the path for the wall Trump has proposed at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Supreme Court this week gave approval for the land to be plowed, the San Antonio Express-News reported. The Supreme Court’s decision allowed the Trump administration to bypass 28 federal laws to plow through the land, most of them protecting the environment.
The news was not welcomed by supporters and staff at the National Butterfly Center, especially as the majority of the 100-acre land will now fall on the Mexican side of the wall.
“Just like farmers get crop yield in acres and inches, we get butterflies based on what we have planted in acres and inches,” said Marianna Wright, the center’s executive director. “So having a wide swath of our property bulldozed is going to negatively impact the volume of the species and diversity of the species.”
Wildlife experts say the border wall could have a huge impact on a number of endangered species and impact the more than 200 species of butterflies that live there. As The Intercept reported, the land is an important migration ground for the threatened Monarch butterfly and home to endangered species like the ocelot and jaguarundi.
A trio of environmental rights organizations had sued the federal government in an attempt to stop the construction of the border wall. The groups, led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, argued that plants and wildlife would be harmed by the wall and that critical habitat would be destroyed.
The decision to plow through the butterfly sanctuary has led to some outrage online, with many saying that it is not worth harming natural habitat for a wall not expected to make any significant difference on illegal immigration.
For Marianna Wright, the idea of building a wall to stop immigrants from illegally entering the United States didn’t seem to justify breaking existing laws to put the wall in place.
“We have a president who purports to be all about law and order, and he and the Supreme Court are now supporting the waiver of all laws that get in the way of his agenda,” Wright said. “That should be an affront to all Americans.”
The paving of the National Butterfly Center’s land is expected to start in February.