The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Erin Fitzgerald, Earthjustice, (415) 283-2323

Marianna Wright, National Butterfly Center

Earthjustice and National Butterfly Center Urge U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Shut Down Illegal Private Border Wall Construction in Texas

“We Build the Wall, Inc.” and allied extremists and hate groups flouting federal requirements.

Galveston, TX

This morning, the environmental law group Earthjustice, on behalf of the National Butterfly Center, released a letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that asserts that We Build the Wall, Inc. flouted a request from the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). The letter urges the Corps to immediately investigate the "apparent violations of federal law" and halt private border wall construction along a 3.5 mile stretch of the Rio Grande River in Hidalgo County, Texas. On Tuesday, a Texas judge ordered We Build the Wall, Inc. to temporarily halt construction on the border wall due to the potential irreparable damage to the nature preserve. Earthjustice and the National Butterfly Center will continue to push for a more permanent resolution.

Earthjustice attorneys also assert that the private company failed to conduct detailed engineering studies or secure required Clean Water Act permits in its rush to build. "We Build the Wall, Inc.'s disregard for the law is astounding," said Earthjustice attorney Sarah Burt. "We're asking our government to stand up to such lawlessness and protect landowners and local communities from the impacts of this malicious project."

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) is committed to defending the integrity of the National Butterfly CenterTM, a world-class conservation and education center that is owned and operated by NABA. NABA vigorously opposes illegal border wall construction, whether by the federal government through the National Butterfly Center or on nearby land by private profiteers.

"The National Butterfly Center is located on the Rio Grande River, within the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Conservation Corridor, and serves as an oasis for wild, free-flying butterflies and the native plants upon which they depend," states Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg, president and founder of the NABA. "The incredible biodiversity found here, supported and enhanced by 17 years of labor and millions of dollars of investment, is integral to the health of a fragile, but vibrant ecosystem and warrants protection against this unlawful incursion."

Walling off the Rio Grande River as this illegal construction in the floodplain intends to do will result in untold ecological damage by exacerbating flooding and altering the flow of the river, thereby causing real land loss and changes to the sediment, vegetation and topography of the delta.

Previous reports have documented that We Build the Wall, Inc. is collaborating with armed militia groups and representatives of organizations identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). We Build the Wall Inc. received fundraising support from both the United Constitutional Patriots, an organization known for terrorizing border families, and the Center for Immigration Studies, which SPLC notes has a "decades-long history of circulating racist writers" supports the effort as well.

In March, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of a coalition of border residents, local and national environmental advocacy organizations against the Trump administration over its illegal declaration of a national emergency to build a border wall. The proposed border wall would cut through an historic cemetery, including potential exhumation and desecration of loved ones' and veterans' remains. It would also block communities in Laredo from accessing parts of the Rio Grande River, and sever First Nations people who have lived in the area for centuries. The case heads to an initial hearing on December 16th.

Read more about our case here.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.