WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)–July 28, 2017. The House of Representatives yesterday approved the Trump administration’s $1.6 billion budget request to expand the U.S.-Mexico border wall, ignoring threats to protected wildlife refuges and border communities.
Republicans bundled the funding with defense and veterans spending bills in a bid to ensure passage. Work could begin later this year to build 32 miles of new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and replace an existing border wall in San Diego, Calif., only a decade after its completion.
“Trump’s border wall fixation now has legs, thanks to House Republicans,” said Brian Segee, an attorney with the Center. “But they’re underestimating public opposition to this $70 billion boondoggle. Bulldozing beloved wildlife refuges won’t make us safer, but it will enrage people across the country.”
Part of the Texas wall would destroy the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, one of the top birding destinations in North America and home to a dwindling population of endangered ocelots. Border wall construction is also planned through or near at least six other protected national wildlife refuges, including two south of San Diego and three refuges in Arizona.
The Trump administration is ignoring federal laws that require environmental review and public input before building on public land. In June the Center expanded its lawsuit against proposed border wall prototype construction in San Diego to also challenge replacement of a 14-mile segment stretching east from the Pacific Ocean. The lawsuit challenges the failure of the Trump administration to conduct any environmental analysis or disclose any information about the project. The San Diego border wall was built using extensive waivers from environmental laws issued under the George W. Bush administration.
“It’s impossible to know where Trump’s border wall fantasy will lead, but it’s clear that Mexico won’t be paying for it, so he needs to shake down taxpayers,” Segee said. “The costs are enormous, and he’ll only keep asking for more. What’s certain is the border wall will divide local communities and destroy wildlife.”
A recent study by the Center identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species that would be harmed by proposed wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
In April the Center and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sued the Trump administration over the proposed border wall and other border-security measures, calling on Homeland Security to conduct an in-depth investigation of overall border-security environmental impacts.
Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural migrations of people and wildlife that are essential to healthy diversity.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.