McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Several environmental groups have reached a settlement in a lawsuit against several federal government agencies that have now pledged not to use military funds to continue construction of the border wall.
The 2019 lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Legal Defense Fund to stop the construction of a border wall using Department of Defense funds.
Under the agreement, reached last week, DOD and Department of Homeland Security officials promise to halt all construction of the border fence on the southwest border using military funds from fiscal years 2015 through 2019.
This does not apply to the construction of border barriers currently paid for with other funds, such as in southern Texas.
The agreement also provides for future remediation and mitigation efforts to help restore the border areas from the environmental effects caused by the construction of the border wall. But that is “subject to the availability of funds,” according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
It also states that the federal government will conduct a study to assess the full environmental impact the construction has had on wildlife habitats.
Building the border wall was a feature of Donald Trump’s presidency, and environmental groups say they want all evidence of it removed from the landscape.
“This deal ends one of the most destructive and enduring madnesses of the Trump administration. The wall is responsible for blocking critical cross-border wildlife corridors and hampering recovery efforts for endangered species like the Mexican gray wolf and jaguar. Defenders will continue to fight for the protection of the rule of law from reckless decisions that put our communities and our wildlife at risk,” Defenders of Wildlife Vice President of Conservation Law for Mike Senatore said in a statement. communicated.
A Mexican gray wolf, nicknamed “Mr. Goodbar”, traveled 23 miles in four days in November 2021 to try to circumvent the border wall in New Mexico. In January, he was found injured in the leg and helped by authorities American Fish and Wildlife.
“While no military funds should have been wasted on Trump’s destructive wall, this deal at least puts an end to that,” said Brian Segee, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The wall and its infrastructure, including lights and roads, have left a monstrous scar in one of the most biodiverse regions on the continent. Now federal agencies will have to take stock of the damage and begin the important work of trying to heal this environmental and humanitarian disaster.
“The previous administration’s disregard for wildlife in critical protected refuges, forests and conservation areas to illegally build a wall along the border could have devastating long-term effects that will require study and monitoring to years to come,” said the director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Director Stephen Wells. “While the government’s national emergency powers should never have been used for this purpose, we hope this measure will help prevent further harm to these communities and ensure that such actions do not happen again in the future. to come up.”
The February 2019 lawsuit alleged that Trump overstepped his executive authority to appropriate billions of dollars to build border walls along the southern border and illegally invoked the National Emergencies Act, reallocating military funding in a non-emergency situation to finance a political objective.
In April 2021, shortly after President Joe Biden took office, he canceled all border wall contracts paid for with military funds.