The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday filed plans in the Federal Register for 17 miles of new wall construction in Hidalgo County, where the cities of McAllen and Mission are located. The department plans to waive federal laws to expedite construction and will fund the work with current appropriations.
The Center for Biological Diversity warned the expansion would slice through family farms and the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, National Butterfly Center, Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park and the grounds of the historic La Lomita Chapel.
The environmental group said its weighing a court challenge to the plan since DHS's waiver would let it skirt 28 regulations meant to protect residents, wildlife and public use of lands.
Scientific publications — including a recent journal article with supporting signatures from more than 2,500 scientists from 43 countries — warn that continued construction of the wall would be devastating to wildlife and the environment.
“The Trump administration is ignoring thousands of people in Hidalgo County who don’t want these disastrous border walls,” said Laiken Jordahl, the Center's environmental group's borderlands campaigner. “The Rio Grande Valley is one of the most spectacular and biologically important landscapes in the country. Every acre is irreplaceable. We’ll do everything in our power to stop this destruction.”
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