WASHINGTON— Senate Republicans want to spend $5 billion next year for more border-wall construction. Their 2020 spending bill would fund more than 100 additional miles of border wall without any meaningful review of potential harm to wildlife, the environment or borderland communities.
“Trump has already stolen billions from the military for his hateful border wall, so it’s ludicrous for Congress to give him another penny,” said Paulo Lopes, a public lands policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s wall is killing animals and inflicting permanent scars on spectacular protected wilderness, all to feed his xenophobia.”
Since January 2017 Congress has authorized $3.1 billion to build 134 miles of border barriers. Despite lawmakers’ claims to the contrary, all of these barriers have inflicted lasting damage on wildlife, the environment and local communities.
In addition to money already authorized by Congress and the proposed Senate funding bill introduced today, Trump’s February emergency declaration sidestepped Congress and diverted more than $6 billion in military funding for border-wall construction.
Last week Interior Secretary David Bernhardt transferred 560 acres of public land to the Army to build walls with funds that Trump illegally diverted from the military. The Center and allies have sued to challenge Trump’s emergency declaration to fund border walls.
Tens of millions of gallons of groundwater will be needed for Arizona wall construction, threatening Quitobaquito Spring, home to endangered species and a sacred site of the O’odham people. Trump has waived dozens of environmental and public health laws to speed border wall construction through wildlife refuges, national monuments and other protected landscapes throughout the borderlands.
A 2017 study by the Center identified more than 90 endangered or threatened species imperiled by wall construction along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. They include jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and ocelots.
Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger Trump administration strategy of 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.