Hearing on Butterfly Center’s Restraining Order Expected Soon; Could Lead to Injunction Against Border Barrier

A monarch butterfly rests in the hand of a visitor to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. (Awakening News photo)

By Awakening Staff

A hearing is expected to take place in early March, in response to a temporary restraining order filed by attorneys for the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. The lawyers seek to stop the U.S. federal government’s plan to construct a new section of border-security fencing that would cut through the approximate middle of the popular center and reportedly involve bulldozing about two-thirds of the vegetation that serves as a sanctuary for migratory butterflies and other wildlife.

The Awakening News, in cooperation with members of Bee City Canada, Bee City USA, the local Horticultural Society in Orillia, Ontario and others has steadily followed this issue since its inception—in tandem with reporting on, and seeking explanations for, the collapse of bee colonies.

Both bees and butterflies are essential to the ecosystem and the food chain because they are pollinators which make possible the very existence of key crops, farms and the overall food supply. Therefore, the issue goes way beyond merely preserving winged creatures; it’s about preserving humanity.

The filing of the temporary restraining order comes amid the arrival of heavy excavation and construction equipment in the vicinity of 100-acre center. The Center’s executive director, Marianna Trevino Wright, had already been to Washington D.C. to testify against this border-barrier section when, at a Feb. 11 protest near the border, she said that attorneys for the Center would be filing a temporary restraining order, which did in fact happen about two days later.

The 20-page filing asks the court to grant an injunction against the Trump administration’s efforts to construct a “wall,” or border barrier that may consist of heavy fencing, along a levy and canal that separates the Center’s front-30 acres from its 70 acres in the rear. The rear acreage, most of which is thick with butterfly-friendly vegetation, goes all the way back to the geographic-political U.S.-Mexico border, marked by the Rio Grande River.

If granted, the injunction would hold until the court rules on a lawsuit filed 14 months ago by the Butterfly Center against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

Notably, the Rio Grande River was agreed upon as the U.S.-Mexico political boundary in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, drawn up to end the U.S.-Mexican War. But instead of following the river, the proposed border-barrier section would separate the Butterfly Center’s 30-acre area from the 70-acre area—thereby putting the larger area on the Mexican side of the barrier—even though that area is located, of course, within the United States.

Notably, a recent on-the-ground, fact-finding survey of the border barrier by Awakening News consulting editor M. Samuel Anderson showed that existing fence sections, as far east as Brownsville by the Gulf of Mexico, and then west toward Mission, often are located a considerable distance away from the river and in some spots follow an erratic path—literally zigzagging across the countryside—with some fence sections well within U.S. territory.

Long stretches of land that have fencing sections are followed by extensive areas that have no fencing at all. And different sections have different designs, with most metallic fencing sections showing signs of significant rusting. So, it’s not as if the existing border barrier is one, long uninterrupted section of wall/fencing; rather, there are big gaps that have long been tolerated. The border authorities often rely on multiple technologies, including aerial blimps, drones, sensors and other means in areas that lack a physical barrier.

The wall construction comes as some researchers report a rather dramatic drop in insect populations worldwide. A recently released study found a 2.5 percent annual decrease in insects over the past 25 to 30 years.

“It is very rapid,” researcher Francisco Sánchez-Bayo was quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Guardian. “In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

Among those losses are dramatic drops in the world’s butterfly populations. The U.K. reported a 58 percent drop in butterflies on farmed land from 2000 to 2009. Previous research found a 97 percent drop in the Monarch butterflies that spend their winters in California since the 1980s. The Monarchs’ disappearance has reportedly accelerated in recent years. Climate fluctuations and pesticide use were cited as likely causes.

The Daily Beast, an online news outlet, remarked: “A bug-less future could be a hungry future. Insects pollinate most plant species, and form a critical link in the food chain. It’s also a preventable future, with the right ecological intervention . . . . The Rio Grande Valley [a four-county area in deep-south Texas that includes Mission], where animals can still wander across human borders and rare plants form an oasis for unique butterfly species, can be a model of conservation done right.”