A US congressman and an environmental group have filed the first lawsuit to target Donald Trump’s plan to build a 10m-high wall along the US’ southern border.
The suit is being brought by RaÃºl Grijalva of Arizona and the Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD) in an Arizona district court. If successful it would require the government to undertake an environmental impact assessment along the entire length of the wall before beginning construction, paying particular attention to its impact on species.
The assessment would include the barrier as well as supplementary projects such as road construction, off-road vehicle patrols, tunnelling to install fibre-optic sensors, the installation of high-intensity lighting, and the construction of base camps and checkpoints.
All this, the centre says, would affect "the borderlands environment stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, which is home to millions of people, endangered species like jaguars and Mexican grey wolves, and protected federal lands such as Big Bend National Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument".Â
Brietbart news, a website sympathetic to the president, commented that the lawsuit’s prospects were not promising. It said the Department of Homeland Security had a waiver from environmental laws that hamper construction, "granting the department tremendous latitude in the border region in the name of national security".
Donald Trump refuses to follow our environmental protection laws. See you in court, Mr President– Congressman RaÃºl Grijalva of Arizona
However the CBD said that the agency was still required to assess the environmental impact, which would make the legal action a delaying tactic.
The borderlands were last reviewed under the auspices of the National Environmental Policy Act in 2001, which requires the review of federal programmes. The centre argues that the likely impact of construction work requires a new assessment.
Before the Easter break, Grijalva tweeted: "Donald Trump refuses to follow our environmental protection laws. See you in court, Mr President". The congressman is the senior member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Congressman RaÃºl Grijalva of Arizona (Twitter)
Grijalva, who has been ranked as the most leftwing member of Congress, is known for supporting the conservation of endangered species. His father was a migrant worker from Mexico who entered the United States in 1945 through the Bracero Program and worked on southern Arizona ranches.
Kierán Suckling, the CBD’s executive director, said: "Trump’s border wall will divide and destroy the incredible communities and wild landscapes along the border. Endangered species like jaguars and ocelots don’t observe international boundaries and should not be sacrificed for unnecessary border militarization.
"Their survival and recovery depends on being able to move long distances across the landscape and repopulate places on both sides of the border where they’ve lived for thousands of years."
Ditch of waste
Meanwhile, around 200 firms have expressed an interest in building the wall.
Among the ideas put forward is one from Clayton Industries, which proposes digging a 100ft trench and filling it with nuclear waste.
The toxic wall, with option microgrid for power generation (Clayton Industries)
Other schemes include one from Crisis Resolution Security Services proposing to recreate the Great Wall of China and sell it as a tourist attraction.
Another, from Gleason Partners, aims to fit it with solar panels.
Numerous ironic or satirical suggestions include forming a barrier from 3 million hammocks.
Top image: The wolves would also be kept out of the US by the border wall (whitewolfpack.com)