Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 18, 2017

Contact: Brian Segee, (805) 750-8852,

House Appropriations Committee Greenlights Trump's Destructive Border Wall

WASHINGTON— Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved the Trump administration's $1.6 billion budget request to expand the U.S.-Mexico border wall as part of the Department of Homeland Security's fiscal year 2018 spending bill.

The $1.6 billion down-payment will go toward building a new border wall in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and replacing an existing border wall in San Diego, Calif., only a decade after its completion. 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 endangered ocelots.

“Republicans are making a grave mistake supporting Trump's bizarre fantasy of a border wall,” said Brian Segee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Throwing billions of dollars at the border wall boondoggle and demolishing an iconic wildlife refuge won't make our country safer. But it will be a disaster for people and communities, and tragically sacrifice the fragile borderlands environment and endangered species like jaguars and ocelots.”

A recent report by Democratic staff on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee estimated that Trump's border wall could cost at least $70 billion to construct (as much as $36.6 million per mile) and $150 million a year to maintain. These estimates don't include the costs of acquiring hundreds of miles of private land needed for border wall construction, particularly in Texas.

On June 7 the Center expanded an existing lawsuit against proposed border wall prototype construction in San Diego. The lawsuit challenges the Trump administration's failure to conduct any environmental analysis or release any information about the San Diego border wall replacement, which would be partially funded by the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill (it is already partially funded under the 2017 appropriations law). The existing San Diego border wall was built under extensive waivers from environmental laws issued under the George W. Bush administration.

“Replacing the San Diego border wall only a decade after it was built shows that the border wall has always been stupid, ineffective and incredibly expensive,” Segee said. “Trump's border wall would compound this travesty by dividing and destroying more communities, wildlife and wild places.”

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. The Center and U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sued the Trump administration in May 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.

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