Story at a glance
- A sect of the Kumeyaay people have filed an injunction to cease construction of part of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper were two defendants named in the suit.
A Native American tribe with ancestral roots in the regions surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border is suing the Trump administration to halt construction on a new piece of the border wall, alleging that the development will trample over the tribe’s sacred burial grounds.
The Associated Press (AP) reports that on Tuesday, the La Posta Band of Diegueno Mission Indians filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Diego for an injunction to cease the construction of the metal border wall until the Kumeyaay people can find a way to preserve their religious and cultural sites, while its members can oversee the excavation.
La Posta is reportedly one of the 12 bands of the Kumeyaay people. The lawsuit notes that the tribe was not properly contacted regarding the development of the border wall on their generational lands.
The lawsuit was specifically filed against President Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite. It claims that the “Defendants are currently constructing the border wall directly through Kumeyaay burial sites and sacred lands, causing irreversible and easily avoidable damage to Kumeyaay remains, cultural items, history, and religious practices,” per AP.
Development of the border wall has been interfering with the tribe’s rights to religious freedom, since multiple members have been told they will be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing when they tried to access the grave site to pray and conduct ceremonies.
The Kumeyaay Native Americans have historically lived in the region near San Diego and the Imperial counties of California for more than 12,000 years. Some of the trail locations along the border have religious significance.
Some of the locations zoned for construction include an ancient tribal cemetery near Jacumba, a town outside of San Diego. Kumeyaay historians have documented the existence of human remains, grave locations and other Kumeyaay archeological sites.