Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 9, 2018

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

Federal Appeals Court to Review Trump's Border Wall Authority

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity today appealed a federal court decision on Trump’s border wall, asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that the administration illegally waived dozens of laws to build replacement walls and prototypes south of San Diego.

“Trump is ignoring bedrock environmental protections and relying on a congressional waiver that expired years ago,” said Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center. “He’s on a rampage to fulfill a hateful political promise, bulldozing forward with no concern for how much damage these walls will inflict on communities and wildlife. This lawlessness and executive overreach needs to stop.”

Today’s appeal challenges the administration’s use of a long-expired waiver to build replacement walls and prototypes near San Diego while sweeping aside laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife.

The Center sued the Trump administration last year and a U.S. District Court judge heard arguments on the matter in February. In March the judge ruled against the Center, the state of California and other conservation groups, saying the 2006 waiver authority was still valid.

In January the Trump administration used the waiver a third time to convert 20 miles of vehicle barriers into bollard walls along the border in eastern New Mexico. The Center and conservation partners filed suit in March to challenge the New Mexico waiver. Construction is set to begin this month. 

“Trump has an irrational obsession about the border, and Congress has indulged him,” said Segee. “It’s up to the judicial system to restore some sanity and stand up for these spectacular borderlands. The communities and wildlife along the border need and deserve legal protection.”

The San Diego border-wall replacement project includes 14 miles of 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 2017 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.

More press releases