Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 9, 2018

Contact:  Brian Segee, (805) 750-8852,

Federal Judge Hears Arguments on Blocking Trump's Destructive Border Wall

SAN DIEGO— The Center for Biological Diversity argued in federal court today that the Trump administration has violated the law in its rush to build border-wall and prototype projects near San Diego. The state of California made similar arguments during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose decision will determine whether Trump can ignore dozens of environmental laws to erect new border walls.

“The Trump administration can’t use an expired waiver to bypass crucial environmental protections to build these destructive projects,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center who argued the case. “It’s time to stop Trump’s hateful bombast and his executive overreach here in San Diego, before it goes any further. The law and the Constitution are firmly on our side, and we think the judge will agree.”

Curiel consolidated the Center’s lawsuit with similar challenges from the state of California and other conservation groups. The judge could issue his ruling at any time following today’s hearing.

The Center’s lawsuit challenges the Trump administration’s use of a long-expired waiver to build replacement walls and prototypes south of San Diego without having to comply with laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife. The lawsuit states that the waiver authority, granted in 2006, is no longer valid and is an unconstitutional delegation of power to the Department of Homeland Security. Last month the Trump administration used the waiver a third time to speed construction of 20 miles of border wall in eastern New Mexico.

“This disastrous wall and the roads, lighting and infrastructure that come with it would do real damage to wildlife and communities. But it won’t do anything to stop illegal drug or human smuggling,” Segee said. “We aren’t going to let Trump waste billions of taxpayer dollars to fulfil a twisted campaign promise to build a destructive wall that most people don’t want.”

The border-wall replacement project would include 14 miles of new primary and secondary border fencing from the Pacific Ocean to Otay Mesa. This region of coastal San Diego County contains wetlands, streams and other rare wildlife habitats, as well as critical habitat for numerous endangered species, including the Quino checkerspot butterfly and coastal California gnatcatcher.

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

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.

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