Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 16, 2023


Laiken Jordahl, (928) 525-4433,

Biden Administration Urged to Cancel Border Wall Environmental Waivers

WASHINGTON— More than 100 groups urged the Biden administration to reverse its decision to cast aside legal protections for border communities and wildlife to fast-track border wall construction in Texas.

The letter, sent to the Biden administration today, was signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the ACLU, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Wilderness Society, GreenLatinos, Defenders of Wildlife, the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, United We Dream and more than 100 others.

“We hope President Biden heeds our call to restore legal protections for clean air, clean water, Indigenous graves and endangered species,” said Laiken Jordahl, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Border communities, wildlife and Indigenous nations deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else in America. It’s baffling and cruel that the administration plans to ignore these vital laws to build a destructive wall that the president admits is useless.”

The Oct. 5 waiver marked the first time that a Democratic administration has swept aside protections for border communities and wildlife to build border walls. In the announcement, the administration said it would take “immediate action to construct barriers and roads” along the border, including through fragile habitat near the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

“Federal officials have falsely claimed they had no choice but to waive protections for border communities and wildlife, but this terrible decision was theirs alone and they have the power to undo it,” said Jordahl. “They can stop bulldozers from descending on Starr County and protect some of the best wildlife habitat left in south Texas.”

Wall construction in Starr County would block wildlife from reaching the Rio Grande and destroy native habitat. Two endangered plants in the area, the Zapata bladderpod and prostrate milkweed, live nowhere else on Earth and are threatened by wall construction. The new walls could also set back recovery plans for endangered ocelots that are native to the region.

In September the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a damning report detailing the severe damage the border wall has caused to wildlife, public lands, and Indigenous sacred sites and burial grounds along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

center locations