The National Butterfly Center in South Texas has sent a certified letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stating its intent to sue over the construction of a border wall on its private property. That potential DHS construction, the suit alleges, would violate private property rights and the Endangered Species Act.
Marianna Trevino-Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, last summer discovered private contractors working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cutting protected habitat and widening a road to make way for the wall that was a centerpiece of the candidate’s presidential campaign.
The letter alleges the chainsaw-fest is a violation of the center’s private property rights. Though exceptions exist for government workers maintaining levees for flood control, the National Butterfly Center’s attorney says the proposed “conduct is outside the scope” of those permissions. “The express purpose of this entry and destruction is to enable the construction of a border wall,” the letter reads.
“This is a much bigger issue than the National Butterfly Center,” said Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the nonprofit. “There’s a procedure the government could follow with due process. But they’ve decided — like with so much else — to just ignore the law, trampling on private property rights. The complete disrespect for the legalities of this country is something that ought to concern every American regardless of how they feel about a border wall.”
Glassberg said he believed the nonprofit had no other recourse than to announce its intentions to file suit against the government. In the letter, the National Butterfly Center also alleges the agencies are violating the Endangered Species Act by not studying the environmental consequences of the wall, consulting with agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or taking steps to conserve threatened and endangered species.
The Rio Grande Valley is the “last remaining habitat for the endangered ocelot” and is a major migration corridor for more than 500 types of birds, the letter reads. The 100-acre privately owned sanctuary in Mission provides protected habitat for several endangered and threatened species, such as the tropical parula and the monarch butterfly.
The letter also accuses CBP of discrimination based on race, but provides minimal details, citing a “continued investigation.” The letter reads: “Stops and harassment of employees and visitors on the basis of perceived race and national origin constitutes a violation of these employees’ and visitors’ rights.”
The Texas Observer illustrates the article explaining the potential legal matter with a photo of a pair of huge machines that could tear down the heart of any Greater Jasper municipality within hours.
An alternative vision of a 2,000-mile wall
Michael Agresta also writes in the Texas Observer that this attempt to translate Trumpian campaign boasts into plans for steel and concrete would stretch nearly 2,000 miles over mountains and deserts. One of the simplest "border walls" could be famed-artist Luis Camnitzer’s re-creation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 1976 installation "Running Fence" along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, Agresta suggested in the Observer. The 24.5-mile-long series of white nylon panels was an influential work of environmental art in its time. “In full-length today it would transform a racist project into a public art event and help improve the image of the U.S. with an increasingly needed cultural veneer,” Agresta wrote.
Washington Post political comment
Post writer Jennifer Rubin wrote the following about the vice president’s well publicized actions at a recent NFL game: “The first rule of blatant political stunts is not to let on that they are blatant political stunts. Pence was acting not out of spontaneous patriotism but out of blind loyalty to a president who reduces everyone around him to a sleazy character on a reality TV show.”
The Canisteo author of this weakly gibberish has been honored with the title Greater Jasper Chamber Pot Lauriat.