June 26, 2018
Contact: Paulo Lopes, (202) 849-8398, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, DC (July 18, 2018) – A new House Republican spending bill includes more than $5 billion for border enforcement and new border-wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border, slicing through some of the most biologically diverse regions in North America.
The House Appropriations Committee bill would fund more than 200 additional miles of border wall on public and private lands without any meaningful environmental review. The Senate companion bill, S. 3109, cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee last month and included $1.6 billion for approximately 65 additional miles of border wall.
“House Republicans just wrote an enormous check for Trump’s plan to rip the borderlands in two,” said Paulo Lopes of the Center for Biological Diversity. “They’re willing to wall off our national parks and wildlife refuges, divide communities, seize private property and destroy endangered wildlife habitat to avoid another Trump tantrum.”
Compared to the Senate bill, the House bill triples the length of new border wall and allows construction anywhere along the border. That puts Big Bend National Park, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the National Butterfly Center and other cherished places at risk.
New border walls would cut through communities and private land seized from landowners by the government via eminent domain. Endangered and threatened species along the southern border include the jaguar, Mexican gray wolf and ocelot, as well as a host of migratory birds.
Since January 2017 Congress has authorized $2.4 billion in border enforcement, of which $1.7 billion was allocated for walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. These funds pay for approximately 73 miles of new border wall, about 20 miles of it currently under construction in New Mexico. The Trump administration waived dozens of environmental laws to speed border-wall construction, while also embracing harsh measures against immigrants and refugees such as the family separation policy.
“It’s disturbing that House Republicans are pushing Trump’s ridiculous demands while doing nothing to reunite refugee children with their families,” Lopes said. “This construction will destroy some of the most breathtaking places and important wildlife habitat in the borderlands. It’s an enormous, appallingly harmful waste of money.”
The Center filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s border wall in April 2017 and recently appealed a ruling in a separate lawsuit that challenges the Trump administration’s waiver of dozens of environmental laws to replace border walls near San Diego. The Center also sued the Trump administration to challenge its waiver ignoring 25 laws to speed construction of the border wall in New Mexico. The administration is expected to ignore these same laws ― which include the Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and National Historic Preservation Act ― to rush border-wall construction.
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 Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.