- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Even as President Trump was telling supporters in Texas Monday night that construction had begun on new sections of his border wall, a butterfly sanctuary was filing briefs in federal court asking a judge to effectively put a halt to it.

The North American Butterfly Association says its sanctuary in Mission, Texas, has been overrun by federal agents and construction equipment using sanctuary property to stage for the wall building. The says not only is the staging a problem, but it fears its property will also be bisected by the wall.

The association asked a judge Monday night for a temporary restraining order to stop it.

“During the past week, defendants have transported heavy machinery to be used in the construction of the wall onto tracts adjoining the Butterfly Center, driven their trucks and heavy machinery back and forth across the Butterfly Center as if they own it, and blocked access to more than two-thirds of the Butterfly Center with law enforcement vehicles and by cutting the Butterfly Center’s lock on one of its gates and replacing it with one of their own,” the center said in its new filing.

While the Trump administration has replaced and upgraded existing fences and barriers over the past two years, the construction in Mission is the first time that barriers will be erected in an area where there wasn’t any fencing or vehicle blockades before.

Mr. Trump, at a rally in El Paso, bragged about construction.

“Today we started a big beautiful wall, right on the Rio Grande. Right smack on the Rio Grande,” he told cheering supporters, as he stood in front of a banner that read “Finish the Wall.”

He didn’t say exactly which project he was referring to, though the planned six miles of construction in Mission is the likely subject.

However, that section is not actually right on the Rio Grande. Instead, the construction will be levee wall, built on an existing dirt levee set a couple of miles in from the Rio Grande.

The Butterfly Center says that means dozens of acres of its property in between the levee and the Rio Grande will become a no man’s land.

The center says the government has “hidden” cameras and sensors on the sanctuary to spot illegal crossings, and replaced sanctuary locks with government locks, effectively shutting the center out of its own lands.

That violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, the center argues.

The Justice Department, which has battled the case in the courts, asked for a small extension of time to respond to the temporary restraining order request.

On Monday, the department won a major decision in another legal challenge to wall-building in California.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government did have the power to waive environmental laws to upgrade sections of border fencing.

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