Executive Director of Kumeyaay Heritage Preservation Council Tom Holm said a lawsuit filed in August in an effort to stop border wall construction on Kumeyaay lands might yield a decision this week.
The lawsuit, filed by the council and members of the Kumeyaay Nation against members of the Trump administration specifically requested a preliminary injunction to halt ground-disturbing construction activity at a Mexican-American border wall build site.
The federal case hinges on whether Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf can lawfully waive the application of federal laws to the border project.
Federal Judge Paula Xinis ruled in September that Wolf is likely unlawfully serving as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, a position he has maintained since 2019 although he was never confirmed by the Senate.
That recent ruling might benefit Kumeyaay tribal leaders who have publicly decried the planned border wall, a pillar of Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. If completed, the wall would geographically divide Kumeyaay homelands along the modern Mexican-American border so tribes are internationally separated. Kumeyaay representatives claim federal workers have not taken adequate steps to facilitate tribal monitors and have ignored the impact on the environment, culture, commerce, and quality of life for the impacted tribes.
“As a result, over 1.3 million cubic feet of cultural soils are being displaced, along with countless numbers of irreplaceable cultural artifacts and human remains,” Holm said.
La Posta Tribal member Cynthia Parada said Kumeyaay ancient natives left remains all over the area near where the border wall is slated for construction.
Archaeological findings gleaned from the site in July that were later confirmed as human remains by an independent examiner prompted the original request for a temporary injunction.
That directive to cease building would have allowed the Kumeyaay to remove sacred objects.
However, the Army Corps of Engineers has continued to proceed with construction under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security.
Kumeyaay representatives maintain Wolf lacks authority.
A ruling on the appeal for a temporary injunction has not yet been released.