by Catherine Smith
According to Fox News, “a federal judge lifted a temporary restraining order against a project to build a privately funded border wall next to the Rio Grande.” The judge also denied a separate request for a restraining order in a separate lawsuit filed by the National Butterfly Center against the builders.
Fisher Industries, a construction firm based in North Dakota, is funding the project which is estimated to cost about $42 million.
KTSM-9 TV reported that U.S. District Judge Randy Crane in McAllen, a southern Texas city, ruled that the federal government failed to show that building the 18-foot-tall bollard fence made of galvanized steel so close to the river would shift the course of the river and border itself and imperil a 1970 international water treaty with Mexico.
Dating back to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the U.S. largely avoided building right next to the Rio Grande.
The meandering river separating the U.S. and Mexico sustains wildlife in Texas and provides fresh water to both countries through a series of dams and canals, defined by international treaty obligations. To avoid violating those obligations by causing erosion or rerouting water from the river, the U.S. has built much of the border wall in South Texas a mile or more away from its riverbank.
Tommy Fisher, owner of Fisher Sand & Gravel, had been waiting for the chance to prove he can build President Trump’s signature border wall faster and better than the government.
The U.S. had sued to stop Fisher’s project on behalf of the International Boundary and Water Commission, which oversees the river under treaty obligations.
“We’re just happy that we can move forward with construction,” Fisher said after the ruling, as KTSM-9 TV reported. “We are building the right thing in this right position.”
“We’ve proved you can build right where the agents need it,” Fisher said. “It’s not border security when you’re a mile, two miles, three miles off the border.”
The project was originally announced by We Build the Wall, a Florida-based nonprofit founded in December 2018, when Trump demanded $5 billion in wall funding from Democrats in Congress. When Democrats refused, the resulting standoff led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“We’re an open book. We want all of America to see what border security can be,” Fisher said after the ruling. “If I didn’t believe in this so strongly I wouldn’t have taken a $40 million gamble on this.”
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Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.