State Watch

National Butterfly Center in Texas shuts down indefinitely amid right-wing attacks

The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, announced that it is closing its doors “for the immediate future” amid increased attacks from right-wing demonstrators. 

The butterfly sanctuary, positioned along the U.S.-Mexico border, cited safety concerns for its staff and visitors.

“We regret to announce that the National Butterfly Center will be closed to the public — both members and visitors— for the immediate future,” it said in a release. 

“This difficult decision was made Tuesday evening, Feb. 1, 2022, by the board of directors of the North American Butterfly Association, in the wake of recent events targeting the center,” it added.

The center itself, which is located on the banks of the Rio Grande, has been mired with conspiracies in recent years. 

Right-wing supporters have accused the institution of aiding human traffickers and allege that it is helping to bring undocumented migrants to America.

The butterfly sanctuary had already been forced to close from Jan. 28 to Jan. 30 as a result of a nearby rally hosted by Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, on their “Take Action Tour.”  

Several right-wing activists have posted videos on social media of themselves in front of the sanctuary, according to Agence France Presse.

It is not clear when the center will reopen. 

However, the center said that it would continue to pay its employees, who it said should not suffer loss of payment because of attacks by “political operatives.”

“The board has chosen to pay our valued staff, who should not suffer a loss of wages due to this unexpected business disruption caused by false and defamatory attacks directed by political operatives.” 

“We look forward to reopening, soon, when the authorities and professionals who are helping us navigate this situation give us the green light,” North American Butterfly Association president and founder Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg said.

The National Butterfly Center did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

The Texas center had previously opposed and launched a complaint to block construction of the border wall that was a key pillar of former President Trump’s immigration policy. 

NPR reported that a lawsuit was filed by the center in 2017 after the Trump administration began construction of a wall. It said that it would destroy trees and other plant life on the property and could potentially destroy the natural habitat of the 200-plus species of butterfly that call the center home.

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