Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 15, 2017

Contact:  Jean Su, (415) 770-3187,

Lawsuit Seeks Federal Documents on Trump's Border Wall Prototypes

Secretive Administration Continues Evading Environmental Laws

SAN DIEGO— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection today for failing to provide environmental documents required for the construction of border wall “prototypes” in San Diego County.  

The Center requested the public records in May under the Freedom of Information Act, but the agencies have failed to provide any response. Prototype construction is scheduled to begin this summer. There's no evidence that the Trump administration has done any environmental review, though the review is required by federal law.

“We're calling out the Trump administration's disturbing failure to study how these border wall prototypes will hurt communities and endangered wildlife,” said Jean Su, an attorney with the Center. “The administration can't pick and choose which laws to follow. This project requires compliance with federal environmental laws that protect people and wildlife.”

The prototypes are supposed to be built in the Otay Mesa area of south San Diego, which is surrounded by thousands of communities and contains critical habitat for several endangered species, including Quino checkerspot butterflies.

“The Trump administration's refusal to produce a shred of environmental analysis on the prototypes is a grim omen for the construction of the larger border wall,” Su said. “Officials are ignoring thousands of communities and species that will be threatened by these destructive plans.”

The Center recently filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection over threats to endangered species and critical habitat from building the “prototype” designs in San Diego County.

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

The Center and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sued the Trump administration in April over the proposed border wall and other border-security measures, calling on Homeland Security to conduct an in-depth investigation of overall border-security environmental impacts.

In May the Center sued the Trump administration for failing to provide documents prepared for Trump's transition team about border-wall construction. Those public records, first requested in January, could provide information about the feasibility, effectiveness or impacts of the wall.

In addition to jeopardizing endangered species, Trump's plan for a 30-foot “impenetrable” wall would separate communities and endanger cultural and religious practices among people whose ancestral lands straddle the border.

Download today's lawsuit here.

Download one of the original records requests here.

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 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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