Court Battles

Butterfly group sues Trump administration over border wall

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The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) is suing the Trump administration over its plans to build a border wall through its Butterfly Center in South Texas.

The 100-acre wildlife center and botanical garden abuts the Rio Grande and is part of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Corridor.

In its 20-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, NABA said construction of the proposed wall along the southern border would cut off two-thirds of its property, effectively destroying the Butterfly Center and leaving behind a 70-acre no man’s land between the proposed border wall and the Rio Grande.

{mosads}According to NABA, the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas has the most diverse butterfly and bird fauna of any area of the United States.

The group said on its website the wall will obliterate $450 million in ecotourism that pours into this economically disadvantaged area.

NABA is accusing the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol officials of flouting the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the 5th Amendment by threatening to take NABA’s property without just compensation.

“The Butterfly Center is the premier place in the United States to see and learn about wild butterflies,” NABA said in its lawsuit. ”It is visited by tens of thousands of people each year, including thousands of local schoolchildren. On a given day, one can see 100 species of wild and as many as 200,000 individual butterflies, none of which is held in captivity at the Butterfly Center.”

The nonprofit said planning, design, construction and maintenance of the wall began on its property without warning after then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a memo directing Customs and Border Protection to begin plans for the wall.

NABA is now asking the court to block the administration from building the wall until it complies with the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and the implementing regulations for those laws.

The Center for Biological Diversity also sued the Trump administration in April over the proposed wall. The environmental group said the Department of Homeland Security was obligated to draft a new environmental review to examine the impacts of the wall and other border enforcement activities.

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