TUCSON, AZ, Aug. 31, 2017— The Trump administration today selected four companies to build border-wall prototypes near San Diego, Calif., moving forward with a reckless project that endangers critical wildlife habitat, hurts communities and ignores public input.
The Department of Homeland Security has exempted itself from environmental and other laws to rush construction of the prototypes and replacement border walls. The Center for Biological Diversity plans to challenge the waiver in court.
“Trump’s border wall obsession is spinning out of control,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney with the Center. “These prototypes are the first step toward a wall that will endanger wildlife as well as increase human suffering, sow division and become a monument to Trump’s hate and ignorance.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s waiver would speed construction of the 30-foot-high prototypes in the Otay Mesa area south of San Diego, without any analysis of the environmental impacts or public input. The area is near densely populated communities and contains critical habitat for several endangered species, including the Quino checkerspot butterfly and coastal California gnatcatcher.
A recent study by the Center identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be threatened by proposed wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
“A border wall will divide local communities and destroy wildlife. It won’t make us safer,” Segee said. “The public doesn’t want this, and the law doesn’t allow it.”
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In June the Center filed suit challenging the San Diego prototypes and 14-mile replacement border-wall projects. The Trump administration is ignoring federal laws that require environmental review and public input before building on public land.
In April the Center and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sued the Trump administration over the proposed border wall and other border-security measures, calling on the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an in-depth investigation of overall border-security environmental impacts.
Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is 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.