Environmentalists Dig for Records on Border-Wall Plan

(Photo by Lourdes Medrano, CNS)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Hunting for records on the construction of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, a conservation group brought a federal complaint Wednesday against government regulators.

The 22-page complaint filed in Washington by the Center for Biological Diversity accuses the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers of failing to respond to two separate requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

Filed with the Army on Jan. 20 and the CBP on April 21, the requests at issue seek records “that reference walls, barrier and/or other physical constructions along the U.S.-Mexico border and/or U.S. Canada border, for purposes of the presidential transition process, created for and/or provided to brief members of the Presidential Transition Team and/or their representatives.”

Only when prodded last month for an update, according to the complaint, did Army Corps of Engineers even provided a tracking number for the request.

The Center for Biological Diversity says that is the last it heard about its request, and that its request with Customs and Boarder Protection is facing a similar fate. That agency blew past a 20-day deadline to respond to the center’s request, according to the complaint.

Though the center says it also sent a request to the Department of Homeland Security, it did not include the agency in its lawsuit.

Homeland Security pointed the group to a publicly available database of redacted transition records, and the Center for Biological Diversity says it is going through the administrative appeals process for that request.

The group says the records it seeks are critical because the proposed wall along the southern border will cut through federal lands, two major rivers and the habitats of endangered species.

“The Trump administration is refusing to give the American people crucial public documents about the environmental risks of this massive project,” Meg Townsend, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement. “If this wall is built, it’ll be a disaster for people and wildlife on both sides of the border. The public has a right to know what federal agencies are saying about the dangers of Trump’s wall.”

While the Army Corps of Engineers did not return request to discuss the lawsuit, a representative Customs and Border Protection declined Wednesday to provide a comment.

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