A Texas state judge has temporarily halted the construction of a privately funded fence on a stretch of the southern border due to possible environmental consequences, an action backed by local organizations that sent a letter to the Army on Wednesday.

With his decision, issued Tuesday, Magistrate Keno Vasquez, based in Hidalgo County, heard a complaint from the National Butterfly Center alleging that construction begun in Texas last month by We Build the Wall, a private group founded by a veteran, was illegal and posed a risk to the lands of this center.

On Wednesday, the Mariposa National Center and the Earthjustice group sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop the work permanently and investigate the “apparent violations of federal law” committed.

The stretch that the private group was building was near this center, which manages an area of about 100 acres and serves as habitat for wild butterflies.

“These private groups do not have the right to participate in activities that could cause permanent damage to the Rio Grande or its neighboring communities,” Raul Garcia, Earthjustice’s Legislative Director for Healthy Communities, told Efe.

The letter urges an investigation into possible violations of the regulations, since the wall involves walling the Rio Grande in a flood-prone plain, which would cause “incalculable” ecological damage by altering the riverbed, and cause loss of land and changes in the sediments, vegetation and topography of the area.

They claim that in their rush to get the wall up as quickly as possible We Build the Wall did not conduct detailed engineering studies or obtain the permits required by the Clean Water Act.

Earthjustice said in a statement that previous reports have documented that We Build the Wall, Inc. collaborates with armed militia groups and organizations identified as racist groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

They add that the group received funding from the United Constitutional Patriots, an organization known for “terrorizing” border families, and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which has a “decades-old racist history”.

For its part, the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) pledged to defend the integrity of the National Butterfly Center, which is located “within the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Conservation Corridor and serves as an oasis for the wild butterflies and the native plants on which they depend”.

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