Enforcing Legislation That Protects Wildlife Near the Mexican Border
Defenders of Wildlife v. Elaine Duke
The Animal Legal Defense Fund joined litigation brought by a coalition of wildlife protection groups against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security arguing the agency’s attempt to waive environmental protection laws.
June 29, 2020
In January 2017, the federal government announced that it would replace the San Diego border wall with a staggering 30-foot wall — potentially made of impermeable concrete — as well as building multiple sections of new prototype walls near the Otay Mesa border crossing. These projects were to be the first of the government’s recently funded border wall construction.
In an effort to evade compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security invoked the waiver components of a 2005 immigration law known as the Real ID Act with regard to the San Diego wall construction as well as an area of wall near Calexico, California.
The agency asserts that this law provides it a waiver for compliance with numerous laws enacted to protect both our environment and endangered species, including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Conservation Act.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund joined federal litigation brought by a coalition of wildlife protection groups — including Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity — against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The lawsuit argued that the agency’s attempt to waive the laws is illegal — and it is overreaching with its interpretation of the Real ID Act.
In February 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California denied our motion for summary judgment and granted the defendants‘ motion for summary judgment.
We filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As of June 2018, the case remains on appeal.
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