Trump Administration Waives Laws to Build 100 Miles of Border Wall Across Arizona National Monument, Wildlife Refuges

The Trump administration will waive dozens of environmental and public health laws to speed border-wall construction through federally protected sites in Arizona and California.

Today’s announcement from the Department of Homeland Security says waivers will be used to build walls through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, Coronado National Memorial and numerous designated wilderness areas. The bollard-style barriers will block wildlife migration, damage ecosystems and harm border communities.

“The Trump administration just ignored bedrock environmental and public health laws to plow a disastrous border wall through protected, spectacular wildlands,” said Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This senseless wall would rip a scar through the heart of the Sonoran Desert, kill endangered wildlife and cause irreversible damage. We’ll do everything in our power to stop this destruction.”

The three waivers sweep aside 41 laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife. They cover plans to build more than 100 miles of wall in numerous Arizona locations and in California near El Centro and San Diego.

With these waivers, which take effect Wednesday, the Trump administration will have issued 12 waivers under the REAL ID Act. The waivers come during an open comment period where the public is invited to weigh in with concerns. Comments remain open until July 5.

Border Wall Waivers

Map by Kara Clauser, Center for Biological Diversity.

The Center and allies have sued to challenge Trump’s emergency declaration, which would fund this border wall construction. The Center also has sued the administration to challenge border-wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley and near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico. The Center’s first border-related lawsuit ― filed in 2017 in U.S. District Court in Tucson with U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva ― seeks to require the Trump administration to do a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of its border-enforcement program. All of these suits are pending.

A 2017 study by the Center identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be threatened by wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

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.

The waivers cast aside these laws:

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