Litigation disputing funding for wall would benefit communities, wildlife

In some good news in the fight against the building of the border wall, which would be devastating for wildlife, a District Court Judge ruled Thursday that a key challenge in our lawsuit can move forward: whether President Trump can legally divert $3.6 billion in military funds to build a wall.

Our Defenders of Wildlife lawsuit, filed in February of 2019 with a coalition of environmental groups, challenged both the president’s National Emergency Declaration as well as diversions of Pentagon funds for wall construction. Judge McFadden of the District Court for the District of Columbia rejected claims that the Emergency Declaration was unconstitutional but denied in part the government’s motion to dismiss our claims challenging the administration’s reassignment of funds to the border wall. The decision means our claims can go forward under the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. 

“While this decision isn’t everything we hoped for, the fact that we are able to continue challenging funds being diverted to build this unnecessary wall is certainly a reason to celebrate for wildlife,” said Jason Rylander, senior counsel for Defenders of Wildlife. “This wall is destructive and dangerous for communities, wildlife and their habitat along our southern border and we will continue to fight it every step of the way.”

Much of the proposed wall will be constructed on national monuments, national wildlife refuges and other federal public lands essential for wildlife and their movement. One section of construction would be built across the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which has been the cornerstone for recovery of the endangered Sonoran pronghorn. Another section of new wall will cut off a rare corridor for jaguar movement between the U.S. and Mexico.

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

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