The Biden administration announced a plan to return more than $2 billion in funding which had been diverted from Pentagon projects to be used for border wall construction. Construction on the border wall has been suspended since the beginning of Biden’s presidency, though the border wall project has yet to be cancelled completely. The $1.9 million which had been previously appropriated by Congress for the project will be used for drainage and erosion control or any other environmental damage caused by wall construction.
A broad coalition of environmental groups, civil rights activists, and Native American tribes released a report calling for the Biden administration to remove 59 miles of border wall in sensitive areas such as wildlife corridors, areas of natural beauty, and sites with tribal significance.
The state of wall-building and funding, and options for the Biden administration to cease all construction and repair at least some of the damage.
- In the Coronado National Memorial — where conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado entered what is now modern-day Arizona — contractors are pulverizing the wilderness in a rush to put up as many miles of border wall as possible before the Trump administration vacates Washington.
- The head of a nonprofit that owns a coveted birding preserve in remote western Starr County told Border Report on Friday afternoon that its board has decided not to sell the land to the Trump administration for border wall construction.
- Customs and Border Protection will soon finish installing 50 wildlife passages across 63 miles of recently-completed border wall in southern Arizona in an attempt to allow more small animals to move across the border. The openings, which some have likened to “doggy doors,” are flush with the ground and the dimensions of a standard sheet of paper—eight and a half inches wide and 11 inches tall. The agency says the openings will make it easier for small animals to get through the wall, and that it plans to install more in the future. But scientists and environmentalists tell National Geographic that these openings are too small and too far apart to have a significant impact.
A look at the harms that border wall construction has inflicted in south Texas.
- The National Park Service cited public safety concerns for its decision this week to prohibit access to a sacred Tohono O’odham site, a move that comes amid rising tensions between border wall protestors and federal agents. The order comes a week after protestors and federal agents clashed during a demonstration at the site of border wall construction through Organ Pipe. News reports said armed agents tried to relocate protestors after repeatedly telling them it was not safe and they had to leave the site.
Using open-source data and imagery tools, this study documents how border wall construction is harming a fragile desert oasis in a southern Arizona protected area.
- Two O’odham activists protesting the building of the border wall were arrested after blocking construction activity near Quitobaquito Springs in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The springs in southwestern Arizona are sacred to the Tohono O’odham and Hia-Ced O’odham, and are one of very few natural sources of water along the vast, rugged Arizona borderlands. The area also is at the crossroads of construction efforts to replace existing vehicle barriers with 30-foot steel bollards as part of a $891 million replacement project at Organ Pipe.
- A coalition of scientists says the Trump administration’s border wall project in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is wreaking havoc at Quitobaquito Springs, the only source of freshwater for miles and has existed for some 10,000 years. It feeds into a pond that used to be home to Hia-Ced O’odham and Tohono O’odham tribal communities.
- The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear a challenge to the Trump administration’s authority to build the border wall in parts of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas that are ecologically sensitive. The four environmental groups involved argued that the power granted to the DHS Secretary to waive huge conservation staples like the Endangered Species Act is unconstitutional and provides too much power to the executive branch.
- A year after the contract was awarded, CBP officials release the design for the section of border wall that will span southern Arizona’s San Pedro River. Thirty-foot-tall steel bollards will be installed across the river with swing gates to allow river water to flow. The San Pedro is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the southwest and is vital to borderland ecosystems and migration patterns. Local environmental advocates state that the design “doesn’t adequately address concerns about debris buildup and flooding, let alone creatures,” as the administration “basically [makes] it up as they go along.”
- Arizona Public Media reports on the efforts of the Cocopah peoples to prevent construction on their land in the Colorado River delta between California, Arizona, and Mexico. The Cocopah have prevented construction projects thus far by submitting a court document that emphasized the heightened cost of building on the area’s difficult terrain. Tribal lawyers also state that the area is “the cultural and spiritual heart of the Cocopah homeland” and that a wall would cut off vital access to water and family living on the other side.
A look at the laws the Trump administration is waiving or violating in order to build as much border fence as possible before the president’s term ends.
- The Project on Government Oversight publishes an analysis of the Trump administration’s conduct in pursuit of the border wall since 2017. It tracks the waiving of vital laws that protect taxpayers, the environment, and indigenous groups, and how continued construction during the pandemic places workers, families, and border town residents at risk.
- Local ranchers near Nogales, Arizona, and conservationists criticize the Trump administration’s recently awarded $1.3 billion contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel for 42 miles of border construction in the area. The administration waived multiple protective land laws for the project and it would disrupt cattle ranching Forest Service land used by locals for generations.
- The Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund sue the Trump administration for taking $7.2 billion from the Defense Department for border wall construction in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The suit also challenges six Section 102 waivers fast-tracking the projects despite environmental, public health, and Indigenous protections.
- The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) releases a copy of its April 20 letter to Fisher Industries asserting that the company’s 3-mile fencing project near the Rio Grande in Texas violates the 1970 Boundary Treaty and could worsen flooding. IBWC calls on the company to install flood gates, realign the fence, or consider other ways to mitigate flooding before continuing the project.
- The Center for Biological Diversity releases footage of border wall construction destroying parts of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Tinajas Altas Mountains near Yuma, Arizona. The remote area, next to Mexico’s El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, is not a major crossing point for smugglers or migrants but is home to the core population of Sonoran pronghorn, kit foxes, golden eagles, and other endangered species.