The National Butterfly Center in Texas might soon welcome some new residents: a population of armed border guards and a 5.5-meter (18-foot) wall of steel and concrete.
There are fresh concerns that a protected habitat of butterflies along the Rio Grande, the most diverse butterfly sanctuary in the US, could become a victim of the wall.
Congress has approved the construction of 53 kilometers (33 miles) of border wall this year under the Appropriations Act, 2018. Documents obtained by The Texas Observer reveal how the wall would slash through the National Butterfly Center, leaving up to 70 percent of its land on the southern side of the wall.
“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,” the National Butterfly Center said on an online fundraising page.
While the National Butterfly Center said they would sue the Department of Homeland Security over the wall, the US Supreme Court appears to be ignoring calls from environmentalists and going ahead with plans to waive 28 laws to speed up construction of the border wall in Texas.
The laws waived in October were predominantly environmental protection laws and Native American rights laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. As you can imagine, this means conservationists are hardly filled with optimism.
“On a good day you can see a cloud of 200,000 butterflies, and that’s what the border wall is threatening to destroy,” Dr Jeffrey Glassberg, the president of the North American Butterfly Association, told PEOPLE.
Butterflies are a particularly important part of the ecosystem. Along with being attractive for tourists, they are often viewed as an indicator of a healthy environment and play a fundamental cornerstone of the food chain. On top of that, they also pollinate plants and help with natural pest control.
Numerous reports have starkly shown how at least 93, if not hundreds, of endangered species will be put under strain if Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall goes ahead. Earlier this year, 3,000 scientists signed a paper that stated the building of “The Wall” will be catastrophic for the local wildlife.
However, if Trump's tweets are anything to go by, he remains totally unfazed by any such distractions: