Butterfly Advocates in South Texas Are All Aflutter Over Border Wall Security

'We will not stand idly by as the bulldozers roll in,' say conservationists — adding that the proposed barrier is 'racist'

Image Credit: HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images

With the release of a potential border security deal this week, The National Butterfly Center (NBC) in Mission, Texas, is trying to throw up some barriers of its own — by filing a temporary restraining order against the Department of Homeland Security to end access to its property along the Rio Grande Valley.

“We will not stand idly by as the bulldozers roll in,” National Butterfly Center executive director Marianna Treviño-Wright told The Texas Observer in an email on Monday night.

“We will not wait to be heard, until sometime after our land has been seized and destroyed for this racist wall,” Treviño-Wright added.

Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), also said in a press release on Tuesday, “We are seeking an emergency restraining order to halt imminent demolition and construction work that would strand more than 70 percent of the Butterfly Center’s 100-acre property behind the border wall.”

Details are still emerging about the 1,159-page proposed bill — and as it turns out, it specifically prohibits building a barrier in Texas through the National Butterfly Center, as John Roberts of Fox News reported on Thursday morning.

The motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, however, was filed in United States District Court in the District of Columbia earlier this week — and the dust-up over the 100-acre property began back in 2017.

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NABA’s initial suit alleged that government officials had cut down trees and cleared brush on the 100-acre property, as NPR noted.

The proposed wall potentially would bisect the reserve, stranding two-thirds of it on the wrong side — an action NABA says is a violation of its Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections, according to The Observer.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley has some of “the highest concentrations of butterflies in the U.S.,” National Geographic reported — in both volume and number of species.

“For more than a year, people have been talking about butterflies versus border security, but this case is about so much more than that — it is about constitutional protections, the right to due process, the illegal waiver of laws duly enacted by Congress, and the lawlessness of the federal government’s actions,” Treviño-Wright stated in a press release on Tuesday.

“The wall will be littered with cameras and draped with at least 22-foot tall LED lights, a potential catastrophe for sensitive insects. Tourism to the center could crater, forcing the center to close and wasting 17 years of effort cultivating the refuge,” The Observer reported.

On Sunday on its Facebook page, the National Butterfly Center said its plans, should the wall be built bisecting the property, include providing “every visitor and member” with a code for the electronic keypad of the “border wall gate.”

“So this means the ‘bad hombres’ no longer have to bribe or blackmail a Border Patrol agent to [traffic] here, they only have to join the center, rent an RV spot, worship at La Lomita, or have a relative who works for a service provider,” the NBC said in its post.

The post goes on to list several entities who might receive the code, including La Lomita Mission, Chimney Park RV Resort renters and residents, and “every cable guy, ambulance company, firefighter, and garbage truck driver.”

“HOW does this provide for national security??? #NoWall #Resist #JoinUs,” NBC’s Sunday Facebook post concludes.

Let's review: We are fighting to #SaveTheNationalButterflyCenter because the #BorderWall will be built 1.2 miles inland…

Posted by National Butterfly Center on Sunday, February 10, 2019

Last December, the NABA launched a GoFundMe initiative to assist it in its opposition to the wall. To date, that campaign has raised $83,895 of its stated $100,000 goal.

In the description of the GoFundMe campaign, Treviño-Wright said, “The issue is not whether butterflies can fly over a wall, but whether private property (farms, businesses, homes) should be seized and destroyed for a project that does not serve the greater good or enhance national security; rather, it pushes the boundaries of Mexico north of the Rio Grande and makes America smaller.”

She also added that “gunboats could more easily be placed on the river to actually prevent traffic from setting foot on our soil.”

Construction on a six-mile stretch of a steel and concrete wall along the Texas-Mexico border may begin at the end of this month.

Although it is not yet officially released, reports have indicated the budget deal from lawmakers this week allocates $1.375 billion for border barriers, far short of the amount President Donald Trump had said was needed for America’s security wall to protect the southern border from illegal immigration and drugs coming through from the cartels.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Wednesday the president is waiting to “see what the final package looks like.” Although Trump isn’t “happy about it” so far, he is “OK because he’s going to get the job done no matter what,” she said.

Related: Border Wall Naysayers in Texas Are Confused About What They’re Actually Protesting

“He’s got alternative options and he’s going to keep those on the table,” Sanders said. “But you can rest assured the president promised he was going to build the wall and he’s going to deliver.”

For more on this story, check out this video:

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.

This article has been updated with the latest information.

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