Donald Trump’s proposal for a “big, beautiful wall” to keep Mexicans out of the United States hit an insurmountable obstacle after a Democratic congressman and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s plan to build a 30ft wall on the US-Mexico border.
The suit, brought by Congressman Raúl M Grijalva (D-Arizona) and the Center for Biological Diversity in the US district court for Arizona, seeks to require the government to undertake a comprehensive environmental impact analysis before beginning construction, The Guardian reported.
Such a review would probably take several years to complete, delaying indefinitely the fulfillment of one of Trump’s signature campaign promises.
The lawsuit invokes the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires environmental review of major federal programs.
Homeland Security has since begun a bidding process for contractors to build prototypes for the multibillion-dollar project. Still, a lack of interest from major construction firms and a lack of funding from Congress may mean that the proposal never moves beyond a border wall beauty pageant expected to take place in San Diego this summer.
“American environmental laws are some of the oldest and strongest in the world, and they should apply to the borderlands just as they do everywhere else,” Grijalva said in a statement.
“These laws exist to protect the health and well-being of our people, our wildlife, and the places they live. Trump’s wall – and his fanatical approach to our southern border – will do little more than perpetuate human suffering while irrevocably damaging our public lands and the wildlife that depend on them.”
The existing border fence had already caused “significant environmental damage, including flooding and erosion.”
As noted by The Guardian, in July 2008, a heavy thunderstorm produced a damaging flash flood at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona after the border fence prevented water from flowing away naturally.
The border infrastructure was also responsible for the deaths of two people and $8m in damage to Nogales, Mexico, when water was trapped on the south side of the border.
Expanding construction on the border could exacerbate the flooding problems, in addition to threatening the survival of species such as jaguars, ocelots, and wolves, Serraglio said. Additional environmental degradation would probably be caused by the construction of new roads and infrastructure to enable construction of the wall in remote wilderness areas.
The Department of Homeland Security produced an environmental impact statement about border enforcement programs in 2001.
Thursday’s suit is not the first time Trump’s policies have attracted legal challenges. Both of Trump’s attempts to impose a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries have been blocked by federal judges. On 5 April, 17 states sued to attempt to block Trump’s efforts to rescind climate change regulations.
The Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, which are named as defendants, declined to comment on pending litigation.