The lawsuit, first filed against the Trump administration, has been settled after the federal government agreed to spend tens of millions of dollars remediating sensitive ecosystems along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Years after a coalition of state attorneys general filed claims challenging the Trump administration’s plan to build an extended wall along the United States-Mexico border, the federal government has agreed to a compromise.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the agreement was finalized in federal court for the Northern District of California on Monday.
The settlement ends a series of lawsuits filed by attorneys general from 18 states, including California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
While the lawsuits were filed on behalf of different states and entities, they all broadly alleged that the Trump administration misused taxpayer funds earmarked for other purposes.
The approved settlement will redirect money that had been appropriated for the construction of an improved border wall to environmental remediation projects and the improvement of military facilities.
The Los Angeles Times notes that the agreement will set aside about $1.1 million for the monitoring of endangered species, including ocelots, jaguars, and peninsular bighorn sheep. It also proposes the establishment of nearly two-dozen wildlife passages built alongside and within the existing border wall system.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Department of Homeland Security and its constituent agencies have reserved the right to close or otherwise amend wildlife passages to prevent unauthorized entry to the United States.
“[The Department of Homeland Security] reserves the right to place alternative forms of wildlife-friendly infrastructure near the passage and install barrier system attributes near the passages to detect unauthorized entry into the United States,” the settlement states, stipulating that certain types of barriers will not be used.
“Razor wire fencing will not be utilized as an alternative form of infrastructure near the passages. […] D.H.S. commits to using wildlife-friendly alternative infrastructure that permits any endangered or threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act … that is known to be present … to pass over or under the infrastructure,” it adds.
The Department of Homeland Security will also pay $25 million to the State of California, which plans to purchase a 1,291-acre parcel of land in southwestern San Diego County.
This land, which the Los Angeles Times reports has been named “Otay Ranch Village 14,” is considered environmentally sensitive and will be preserved for conservation purposes.
“The Trump Border Wall is officially a relic of the past, which is where it belongs,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a press statement. “With environmental mitigation projects coming online to protect our sensitive ecosystem along the U.S.-Mexico border and the confirmation of over $427 million in funding restored for military construction projects, today’s settlement ushers in a new beginning.
“I am grateful to the Biden Administration for working with us in good faith and making this announcement possible,” Bonta added.