Restraining Order Sought after Trump CBP Seizes Private Lands, Changes Locks

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

According to a Texas Observer report, a motion was filed on Monday by attorneys for the National Butterfly Center located in Mission, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley with the US District Court for DC asking a judge to issue a restraining order against the Trump administration for illegal entry and trespassing.

The National Butterfly Center is a nonprofit project and is “the flagship facility” of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) formed in 1993 and “has grown to over 4,500 members in 30 chapters across the United States. The Center is home to “more then 200 species of wild butterflies in a 100-acre habitat” with trails and gardens.

In 2011, NABA and the Center collaborated and partnered and with the National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife “to ensure the survival of Monarchs on their mass migration through the Rio Grande Valley” and “to plant 12,000 plugs of rare grasses and endangered wildflowers … to create the Geoffrey McAllen Memorial Native Grassland and Wildflower Refugium”  

After clashing with the Trump administration in 2017 the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) sued the administration in December “after government officials allegedly cut down trees and cleared brush on its Texas property” without warning.

The Hill reported at the time “the wall will obliterate $450 million in ecotourism that pours into this economically disadvantaged area.”

NABA is accusing the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Border Patrol officials of flouting the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the 5th Amendment by threatening to take NABA’s property without just compensation.

“The Butterfly Center is the premier place in the United States to see and learn about wild butterflies,” NABA said in its lawsuit. ”It is visited by tens of thousands of people each year, including thousands of local schoolchildren. On a given day, one can see 100 species of wild and as many as 200,000 individual butterflies, none of which is held in captivity at the Butterfly Center.”

The nonprofit said planning, design, construction and maintenance of the wall began on its property without warning after then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a memo directing Customs and Border Protection to begin plans for the wall.

The Hill; 12 Dec 2017

The founder of the National Butterfly Center Jeffery Glassberg told the Texas Observer in August 2017 that he only discovered the Trump administrations’ plans to build through his property when “a group of workers with chainsaws began tearing through specially planted habitat” on “his privately-owned land,” without any written notice from the DOJ, which is required by law.

“This is a much bigger issue than the National Butterfly Center,” Glassberg told the Observer. “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.”

The surprise visit came less than a week after July 14, when the Observer revealed that the Trump administration had been secretly planning for six months to build the first segment of border wall through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, which is 19 miles east of the Mission, Texas, butterfly center.

Last week, the U.S. House approved an appropriations bill that includes $1.6 billion for 60 miles of new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley. The funding awaits approval from the Senate, which will return from its recess in September.

Texas Observer; 4 Aug 2017

After a refuge staffer was guiding a school group through a part of the property this past Saturday and discovered “that the center’s “lock and chain had been cut off the gate and replaced with a [Customs and Border Protection] lock,” blocking “employees and visitors from accessing the majority of the Butterfly Center,” their attorneys filed for a restraining order Monday evening.

The motion alleges that federal agents and contractors have been driving without permission through the Rio Grande Valley refuge’s property to access nearby federal land for the last week, and that they even replaced one of the butterfly center’s gate locks. The Trump administration plans to break ground on a 6-mile stretch of border wall as soon as this week, starting with a federal wildlife refuge tract just upriver from the privately-owned butterfly center.

Texas Observer; 12 February 2019

“CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

ICYMI, yesterday @ theNewsBlender reported the news that the Ninth Circuit Approves Fed Authority to Waive Environmental Laws. It is not known yet if Monday’s filing for a restraining order has been or will be granted.

On A Side Note (Opinion)

For what it’s worth.

President Donald Trump Says Take Guns ‘Early’ Without Due Process.

Published 1 March 2018

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