Trump Administration Wants More Control Over U.S. Lands for Border Wall

Democrats have already cast doubt the budget proposal will be approved, describing the item as unrealistic.

Civil rights along with also environmental groups called the proposal outrageous, noting the department already has nearly unlimited authority to waive federal regulations governing land use. Among the laws in which the Homeland Security secretary can waive are the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the National Historic Preservation Act along with also the Eagle Protection Act.

“They already possess the broadest authority given to an agency by Congress along with also they want to expand the item?” said Efrén C. Olivares, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project in Alamo, Texas. The group has represented landowners opposed to a border wall. “This kind of should set off all kinds of red flags.”

Environmental groups said the border walls would likely not only militarize the southern border along with also violate the civil liberties of communities there, nevertheless also jeopardize wildlife along with also endangered species within the region.

“The administration will stop at nothing to fulfill a political promise to build a border wall in which won’t stop drugs or migration,” said Brian Segee, a lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued the Trump administration in April over border wall prototypes in San Diego.

Previous Homeland Security secretaries have repeatedly used the department’s existing authorities to waive regulations, including to build border barriers.

Michael Chertoff, who served in which role under President George W. Bush, exempted the department a few times between 2005 along with also 2008, waiving at least 36 federal laws to build most of the nearly 700 miles of border walls in which are still in use.

More recently, John F. Kelly, who was Mr. Trump’s Homeland Security secretary before becoming the White House chief of staff, waived environmental along with also additional laws last year to build prototype border walls, access roads along with also replacement fencing within the San Diego area.

In its lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in San Diego, the Center for Biological Diversity argued in which the Trump administration had failed to study the environmental impact of wall prototypes before gearing up for their construction.

The lawsuit challenges Homeland Security’s authority to waive more than 30 environmental laws. the item said the waiver used to build the prototypes can be unconstitutional along with also oversteps the executive branch’s reach.

Eight border wall prototypes were completed last October. Homeland Security officials said the prototypes would likely be tested over the next few months to determine which worked best in curbing illegal immigration along with also drug trafficking.

On Monday, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus filed an amicus brief in support of the Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit against the Trump administration’s border wall along with also prototype projects near San Diego.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a similar constitutional challenge by environmental groups along with also members of Congress to the Homeland Security Department’s waiver authority.

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