Ranking Member Grijalva, Center for Biological Diversity File Lawsuit Against Department of Homeland Security Over Border Programs

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly; Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and CBP as a whole seeking a court order for a supplemental programmatic environmental impact statement for the U.S.-Mexico border enforcement program. If successful, the suit will force a federal assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of the impacts of the entire program, which – in addition to the Trump administration’s proposed border wall – includes regional road construction, off-road vehicle patrols, installation of high-intensity lighting, construction of federal agency base camps and checkpoints, and other activities.

The border enforcement program significantly impacts millions of people, endangered species like jaguars and Mexican gray wolves, and protected federal lands such as Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which is in Rep. Grijalva’s district, and Big Bend National Park, among others.

The lawsuit points to a NEPA requirement that impact statements be supplemented when an “agency makes substantial changes in the proposed action” – in this case, the changes to the U.S.-Mexico border enforcement program, which include Trump’s proposed border wall. NEPA also requires supplemental analysis when “significant new circumstances or information arises,” including new information relevant to threatened and endangered species.

As the suit points out, “Defendants have not updated their programmatic environmental analysis for the southern border enforcement program since late 2001, more than 15 years ago, despite the clear presence of the regulatory factors compelling the preparation of supplemental environmental analysis.”

“Our environmental protections should apply to the borderlands just as they do everywhere else,” Grijalva said today. “These laws exist to protect the health and well-being of our people, our wildlife, and the places they live. Trump’s wall — and his fanatical approach to our southern border — will do little more than perpetuate human suffering while irrevocably damaging our public lands and the wildlife that depend on them.”

“Trump’s border wall will divide and destroy the incredible communities and wild landscapes along the border,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “Endangered species like jaguars and ocelots don’t observe international boundaries and should not be sacrificed for unnecessary border militarization. Their survival and recovery depends on being able to move long distances across the landscape and repopulate places on both sides of the border where they’ve lived for thousands of years.”

The full lawsuit filing is available at http://bit.ly/2opdWWe.

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