Environmentalists challenge border wall plans

A group of environmental advocacy organizations filed suit (PDF) against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Oct. 18 over concerns that the border wall will result in detrimental environmental impacts to the areas surrounding the wall construction sites. The Secretary of Homeland Security's office has issued a series of waivers, dubbed the Lower Rio Grande Valley Border Wall Waivers, that would exempt construction projects related to the planned border wall from federal environmental regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act. The advocacy groups argue that the broadness of the waivers would violate the Take Care Clause, the Separation of Powers Doctrine, the Non-Delegation Doctrine and the Presentment Clause of the Constitution.

To issue the waivers, DHS drew authority from Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). The waivers are expected to exempt nearly 25 miles of land area from federal regulations. The advocacy groups argue the IIRIRA was not meant to be applicable to these waivers, as Section 102 only applies to construction of roads and "barriers"—not the kind of wall now contemplated. The plaintiffs therefore claim the Lower Rio Grande Valley Border Wall Waivers are  ultra vires, as they "exceed the limited grant of authority for such waivers contained in IIRIRA Section 102."

The plaintiffs in the case are led by the Center for Biological Diversity,

From Jurist, Oct. 19. Used with permission.

Note: A similar case challenging waivers declared for a section of the wall already under construction in California was dismissed in March. Previous challenges to waivers issued for sections of border wall under construction for the past decade have also been dismissed by the courts. The waivers have drawn protests from local residents of the border zone in Texas. Trump's planned border wall has also been challenged before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by Mexico's incoming president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Photo via Jurist

  1. Dems support ‘smart wall’?

    Trump's agreement to re-open the government for three weeks while negotiations on the budget resume is being hailed as a victory for the Dems, as the stopgap spending bill has no funding for his border wall. (NYT

    But two days earlier, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said Democrats would be willing to provide $5.7 billion in border security funding to end the shutdown if the money is used for measures like a "smart wall."

    "Using the figure that the president has put on the table, if his $5.7 billion is about border security then we see ourselves fulfilling that request, only doing what I like to call using a smart wall," Clyburn told reporters after a Democratic caucus meeting. "These are the types of things that we are going to be putting forward." (The Hill)

  2. Did Dems blink on border wall?

    A budget deal has been announced to avert a government shut-down, which Trump says he will sign despite being "not happy" with it. Reports the NY Times: "The compromise measure, assembled by senior members of both parties on Monday night, includes just [sic] $1.375 billion for new fencing along the border with Mexico…" 

    And because they didn't get the $5 billion, the GOP is calling this a sell-out. Looks to us like the Dems sold out.