Environmental advocates challenge border wall plans

Environmental advocates challenge border wall plans

A group of environmental advocacy organizations filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday over concerns that the border wall will result in detrimental environmental impacts to the areas surrounding the wall construction sites.

The Secretary of Homeland Security’s office issued waivers, dubbed the “Lower Rio Grande Valley Border Wall Waivers”, that would exempt construction projects from federal environmental regulations including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act. The advocacy groups argue that the broadness of the waivers would violate the Take Care Clause, the Separation of Powers Doctrine, the Non-Delegation Doctrine and the Presentment Clause of the Constitution.

To issue the waivers, DHS drew authority from Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). The waivers are expected to exempt nearly 25 miles worth of land area from federal regulations. The environmental advocacy groups argue the IIRIRA was not meant to be applicable to these waivers for Section 102 only applies to the construction of roads and border barriers, not walls. The plaintiffs, therefore, claim the Lower Rio Grande Valley Border Wall Waivers are “ultra vires, which are unlawful because they exceed the limited grant of authority for such waivers contained in IIRIRA Section 102.