Ever since he started his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump has been promising Americans a wall constructed along the southern border to keep Mexicans and other South Americans out of the country. His fight to get the wall built even resulted in the longest-ever government shutdown from the end of December to the end of January.
Trump never did get the full $5.7 billion he was hoping to build the wall but has had some of the funding approved. However, now there is a different obstacle in his path. As reported by the BBC, the wall won’t only be cutting through government land, and some who will be affected have decided to take legal action against the administration to try and prevent the wall from taking over their land.
One of those privately owned pieces of land is currently the site of a butterfly sanctuary located at the southern tip of the state of Texas along the Rio Grande River.
Marianna Trevino Wright, the owner of the private reserve, shared what the atmosphere around the sanctuary has been of late as nearby areas are cleared for the wall and border security agents have ramped up their efforts in recent months.
“It is a war zone. That’s what the government wants it to appear to be. It’s all theatre. So they’ve got to have all the actors, all the costumes and all the props.”
The government plans to reclaim the 110 acres owned by Wright on which the sanctuary is built, along with other privately owned land in the area, for the border wall. This would be with or without the owners’ permission.
The Trump administration wants to build hundreds of miles of new border wall in South Texas. A butterfly sanctuary stands in the way. https://t.co/BMBvef21r2
— Anthony Zurcher (@awzurcher) April 3, 2019
Wright, for her part, has already had the administration tied up in court over their attempt to seize her land. She is particularly concerned over the fact that the wall will stop wildlife from being able to cross the border, particularly at the times when the Rio Grande floods.
“We’re suing over the violation of the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] and the Endangered Species Act and the de facto seizure of our private property, as well as multiple other egregious acts by Border Patrol,” Wright said.
Fortunately, with the support of environmentalists and immigration activists from all over, she has had plenty of donations for the center’s legal fees. Unfortunately, the lawsuit has had plenty of red tape to climb over.
When nothing came of the original suit and construction vehicles moved in with no warning, Wright was forced to file a temporary restraining order to get rid of them. Shortly after that, a judge dismissed her case. The judge argued that the Department of Homeland Security had “waived” the environmental and cultural preservation laws that Wright was citing in her case.
While she appeals the case, they have to wait for the government to actually break ground on the wall before she can bring the lawsuit again.
So far, the money that has been approved for the wall has a specific caveat with regards to the sanctuary, stating that “none of the money could be used for new fencing through the butterfly center, wildlife preserves, a Catholic church, and several other private properties that have gained prominence for opposing the construction.”
But the money the president has taken from other departments to fund the wall has no such restriction on it.
Wright’s biggest concern is protecting the many species that call the sanctuary home, whether all year round or seasonally. Much of the wildlife that spends time in the sanctuary migrate north in the summer, but for some of the animals, it would be unrealistic to expect them to navigate over a concrete slab to get to the reserve.
Conservationists have hailed her fight against the administration, who appear unconcerned by the wildlife’s migration path or that the wall will be an impassable obstacle in the middle of it.