Crews may start building a private border wall in South Texas within days after a federal judge’s ruling Thursday lifted a restraining order against the project, the Associated Press reports. U.S. District Judge Randy Crane’s order was the second ruling in two days in favor of border barriers. On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit lifted a lower court’s stay that had prevented President Donald Trump’s administration from diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fund 175 miles of border wall. While the White House celebrated the appeals court’s ruling, saying it lifted an “illegitimate nationwide injunction,” Crane’s ruling went against the U.S. government’s position.
Fisher Industries, a North Dakota-based construction firm, wants to install 3 miles of steel posts about 35 feet from the U.S. bank of the Rio Grande, the river that forms the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. The company’s president, Tommy Fisher, wants to spend $40 million on the private border wall — originally promoted by a pro-Trump online fundraising group — to prove that his company can build barriers more effectively. The U.S. government sued to stop Fisher on the grounds that building so close to the Rio Grande risked changing the flow of the river and pushing floodwaters into Mexico, in violation of treaty obligations. Crane issued a restraining order in December, but lifted that order Thursday. He declined to grant a restraining order at the request of the National Butterfly Center, a nonprofit located next to the South Texas construction site. The butterfly center and environmentalists warn building a border barrier so close to the river could worsen erosion and potentially damage other land. The 5th Circuit’s 2-1 ruling allows the government to move forward with 11 projects in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.