Federal judge settles lawsuit on harms to border environment
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A federal judge in Arizona on Monday settled a lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, saying the agencies failed to study potential harms to the environment from increased enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The decision springs from a 2017 lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat. It says federal officials failed to prepare an updated environmental impact statement for border enforcement.
Brian Segee, the center’s legal director for endangered species, calls the decision “a win for wildlife and communities along the border.”
He said the group was disappointed the court stopped short of ordering a new environmental impact statement, but hoped the Biden administration would take a closer look at what enforcement can do to borderlands flora and fauna.
Border enforcement during the administration of former President Donald Trump included off-road vehicle patrols, installation of high-intensity lighting, construction of base camps and checkpoints and wall construction.
Federal officials argued there had been no changes in border enforcement, but the judge said that the record was “replete with examples of expanding federal action.”