By Maria Leon
The border wall construction is rushing forward on the border with Mexico after President Donald Trump’s administration has bypassed environmental laws and endangered sacred sites for indigenous tribes, all in order to build as many miles as possible before the presidential elections. .
“The degree of massive destruction we’re seeing at the border certainly responds to this ridiculous push by the federal government to build as many miles of border wall before the elections,” said Laiken Jordahl, border environment specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
To achieve this, he says, the Trump Administration has passed over laws that protect the environment and violated the rights of indigenous peoples.
“The only thing the federal government cares about is the number of miles they are building, they don’t care about the environment, they don’t care about wildlife, I think they don’t even care about national security, all they care about is increasing and increasing the miles built regardless of the damage they are causing,” Jordahl emphasized.
THE MILES OF THE WALL ARE DOUBLED
According to figures from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office, 341 miles of border wall have been built to date, practically more than double since last April, when the federal government announced that they had reached the 150 miles built.
And the goal of the Trump Administration to build 450 miles by the end of this year and thus be able to boast of its achievement in what was, without a doubt, the star proposal of the 2016 campaign is getting closer, although in these elections for now it has been relegated.
To achieve its objective, several of the projects that the Trump Administration is currently concentrating on are located on the border that connects Arizona with Mexico, a region with a vast area of federal lands, despite the fact that many of them are protected by environmental laws.
This week, the “worst nightmare” of many activists, including Jordahl, came true when the construction of the border wall finally reached the region where the Quitobaquito spring is located, which for centuries has been a source of supply for people and animals that they live in this region.
The spring within the Organ Pipe National Monument is also considered a sacred site by various indigenous tribes, including the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation, who gather there for their religious ceremonies.
In recent weeks, members of these indigenous groups have shown up at the construction site to try to prevent the border wall from being raised, causing clashes with border agents.
Because of this, the federal government decided to close the roads leading to the site, which has further upset environmental defenders.
A few weeks ago, dynamite was used to build the border wall to open a path on Guadalupe Mountain, where the border wall is being built at a cost of approximately $41 million per mile, according to The Washington Post newspaper.
Although construction of the wall in Texas is slowing down as the federal government has to enter multiple lawsuits in court to expropriate the land, construction continues unabated.
CBP announced a new contract wednesday to build 40 new miles of border wall within Texas’ Webb County, where there is currently no protective barrier, and construction is expected to begin in September 2021.
Vicky Gaubeca, director of the Southwest Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), described as “ridiculous” the enormous amount of money that the Trump Administration is spending to build the border wall and thus fulfill the campaign promise that the Republican president made in 2016.
The Trump Administration has a fund of 15,000 million dollars, 5,000 of which were approved by Congress and the remainder was diverted from military funds.
“We do not know what are the priorities of an administration that instead of concentrating on the pandemic that we are experiencing is still concentrating on building a wall, it is carrying it out without showing any importance to the secondary effects that this wall will have,” lamented Gaubeca .
Environmental defenders have denounced that since last March the water level has dropped by 30% in the Quitobaquito spring.
It is estimated that for every mile of border wall in the region, 411,840 gallons of water are extracted to mix the concrete used in the works. But the work could have its days numbered, as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, Joe Biden, has said that if elected on November 3, construction of the border wall would stop immediately when he arrived at the White House on January 20 of 2021.
However, environmental defenders fear that this could be too late for places l