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Judge Settles Lawsuit Over Environmental Impacts Of Border Wall Enforcement

AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File

A judge Monday settled a lawsuit filed against two federal agencies over the environmental impacts of immigration enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border. It stems from the Trump administration’s ramped-up wall construction and other operations. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

A federal judge said the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection broke the law when they failed to conduct an updated environmental impact statement.

In 2017 the Center for Biological Diversity and Democratic Arizona Congressman Raul Grijlava filed a lawsuit against the agencies. They said the Trump administration waived dozens of laws protecting the environment, wildlife and surrounding communities as it increased off-road vehicle patrols, the installation of high-intensity lighting, and construction of the wall, basecamps and checkpoints. The Center called the ruling a “win for wildlife and communities along the border.”

Federal officials argued there hadn’t in fact been changes in enforcement, but the judge said there were many examples of expanded federal activity at the border. The court didn’t order a new environmental assessment, but the Center hopes the Biden administration will more closely examine the impacts of border enforcement on the flora and fauna of the area.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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