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Federal judge halts 1.5 mile section of US-Mexico border fence

[JURIST] A federal judge on Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order sought by two environmental advocacy groups to enjoin the Bureau of Land Management from building a 1.5 mile US-Mexico border fence over the San Pedro river until an appropriate environmental impact assessment is completed. US District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the US District Court for the District of Columbia berated the government for beginning construction on the fence after taking only three weeks to assess the potential environmental impact of the project. The Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife (DoW) requested the restraining order [DoW press release] last Friday, arguing that the "assessment should be done before the area is bulldozed." The San Pedro river, which flows across the Arizona-US border, is considered a National Conservation Area (NCA) by the government. Huvelle noted that the Homeland Security Department has legal authority to waive all environmental laws and build the fence despite the restraining order.

President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 [JURIST report; PDF text] in October 2006. The legislation authorizes the construction of approximately 700 miles of fencing along the 2,000 mile US-Mexican border. Critics of the fence include locals in border communities, who feel that the the federal government has not addressed their concerns that a border fence would interfere with irrigation, harm wildlife, as well as disrupt Mexican consumers and investors that positively contribute to the local economy. In May, the International Boundary and Water Commission said that construction of the fence could violate a boundary treaty [JURIST report] between the United States and Mexico. AP has more.

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