News and Commentary

Texas Judge Puts A Halt To Privately Built Border Wall
A view of the border wall between Mexico and the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on January 19, 2018. The Mexican government reaffirmed on January 18, 2018 that they will not pay for US President Donald Trump's controversial border wall and warned that the violence in Mexico is also the result of the heavy drug consumption in the United States.

A Texas judge has temporarily halted construction on a segment of the border wall being erected on the United States-Mexico border until a private organization, We Build the Wall, can prove it has control over a stretch of land currently being used as a butterfly sanctuary.

The Hill reports that “State District Judge Keno Vasquez of Hidalgo County has issued a temporary restraining order” against We Build the Wall, preventing it from beginning construction on the next phase of its project, a stop-gap border wall between two unfinished segments near the busy border crossing of McAllen, Texas.

We Build the Wall has been raising money, mostly from supporters of President Donald Trump, to fulfill the President’s promise of a complete wall closing off the United States’ southern border with Mexico, so as to prevent or deter illegal immigration. We Build the Wall has, in fact, completed at least one major segment of the border wall, but the wall in Hidalgo County is one of its top priorities. McAllen, Texas, is home to some of the largest detention facilities for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers along the border, and is one of the busiest border crossings.

In New Mexico, a local mayor tried to stop We Build the Wall from completing the wall segment there, but the group and its general counsel, the former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, defeated allegations that the group hadn’t filed the proper paperwork or scheduled the proper inspections before beginning construction.

In Hidalgo County, the concern is over a stretch of land that abuts the National Butterfly Center. The  100-acre Center says that officials with We Build the Wall somehow overstepped the boundaries of private land, which was donated to the group’s cause, and marked areas of the butterfly sanctuary, ostensibly so that construction crews can avoid power, gas, and water lines that run under the wildlife refuge. The National Butterfly Center also contends that any construction near the sanctuary could irreparably harm the butterfly species the center seeks to protect, even if the Center itself isn’t affected.

“According to the National Butterfly Center’s website, its officials found surveyor’s stakes and a work team ‘with chainsaws and heavy equipment’ on the group’s land between the Rio Grande and levees near the border on July 20,” the Hill reports. “The workers hired by We Build The Wall were planning to clear more than 200,000 square feet of natural habitat on the group’s private land, according to the center.”

The Center’s attorney added that the Center “felt compelled” to take action because of We Build the Wall’s “hateful rhetoric,” according to CNN.

We Build the Wall says they aren’t party to the lawsuit, haven’t been served, and certainly haven’t been given a temporary restraining order to stop work on the Hidalgo County project. The segment of border wall set to go up in Hidalgo County is contained on private land.

Regardless, it appears a judge in Texas wants We Build the Wall to stop work pending litigation, just in case the plaintiff National Butterfly Center does, in fact, suffer harm in the interim between now and completion of the case.