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North American Butterfly Ass'n v. Nielsen

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20029
Nos. 17-2651 (RJL), (D.D.C., 02/14/2019) (Leon, J.)

A district court dismissed a conservation group's suit to block the Department of Homeland Security from constructing a border wall near the National Butterfly Center in southern Texas. The group argued that the Department violated the Fourth Amendment by entering the Center without consent or warrant. But the court found that the property at issue—100 acres of open land accessible to the visiting public—amounted to an "open field" and thus was not protected by the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, searches made at the border, pursuant to the United States' long-standing right to stop and examine persons and property crossing into the country, are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border. The group also argued that the Department violated its Fifth Amendment due process rights. But the court found the group's claim was not ripe insofar as it was predicated on an alleged failure to comply with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act's property condemnation provisions. The court therefore dismissed the suit.