- CBP officials announce that an additional 74 miles of border wall is set for construction in the Cochise, Pima, and Santa Cruz counties of Arizona. The new projects will run along sections of the Coronado National Forest and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. The announcement did not include an estimated cost, though the 63 miles built in the region last year cost approximately $1.3 billion.
March 17, 2020
March 16, 2020
- Acting Secretary of DHS Chad Wolf waives approximately 30 environmental and indigenous protection acts to secure land in southern Arizona and New Mexico for wall construction.
February 27, 2020
- The U.S. Army and CBP invites members of the press to watch the detonation of a portion of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. As the explosives were set off in Arizona, the chair of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Ned Norris Jr., was offering testimony in D.C. regarding the Trump administration’s desecration of the Nation’s ancestral lands – much of which is within or near Organ Pipe.
February 26, 2020
- In Arizona, the killing of the iconic saguaro cactuses is a felony. Despite this, dozens have been destroyed in the past weeks by crews prepping for border construction inside the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which has already been blasted with dynamite for the past month. Outrage and protest from the 28,000-member Tohono O’odham Nation grow more prevalent. Construction has already destroyed ancient burial sites and siphoned an aquifer that provided for the desert oasis and its peoples for 16,000 years.
February 25, 2020
- The Zapata County Commissioners’ Court in Texas votes unanimously to deny the federal government access to county land for survey and site assessment near San Ygnacio. San Ygnacio is home to a popular bird and butterfly sanctuary near the Rio Grande that was donated to the county years ago. The government contractors want to survey the area in preparation for the construction of 18 miles of border wall in Zapata County.
February 8, 2020
- The Tohono O’odham Nation announces they were not consulted prior to the blasting of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, despite having sacred sites in the area. The Defense Department awarded $891 million to contractors for construction in the area. The existing barrier has already reduced populations of some of the rarest animals in North America, disrupted pristine wilderness areas, and exacerbated flooding. Proposed construction in Texas will cut through federal wildlife refuges, a state park, the National Butterfly Center, and more indigenous gravesites.
February 6, 2020
- To prepare for border construction in the Tucson sector, contractors are blasting portions of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is an area lauded as one of the nation’s “great ecological treasures” and a place of spiritual significance for multiple indigenous groups. U.S. Congressman Raúl Grijalva expressed that despite CBP using an environmental monitor during the blasting, he has “zero faith that [DHS’ monitor] will do anything to avoid, mitigate, or even point out some of the sacrilegious things that are occurring and will continue to occur.”
February 3, 2020
A look at potential environmental harms that wall construction could cause in southern Arizona, and the work of advocates.
February 3, 2020
- Cochise County in Arizona hosts one of the rural county’s largest-ever political demonstrations against border wall construction near the San Pedro River. Wildlife migration, sensitive habitats, undeveloped landscapes, and limited water resources will all be harmed, activists contend, as the government waives dozens of federal environmental and cultural protections that typically trigger thorough studies before construction. Despite this, construction continues in the San Bernardino Valley with 6 miles of noncontiguous fencing completed and construction imminent at the San Pedro River.
February 1, 2020
- Four conservation groups ask the Supreme Court to review federal court rulings that have allowed the Trump administration to waive dozens of environmental, health, and safety laws for quicker border construction. The administration has issued 16 waivers exempting DHS from more than 40 laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands, and endangered wildlife – including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
January 30, 2020
- The Washington Post reports that President Trump’s border wall will most likely require the installation of storm gates to prevent flash floods during the monsoon season in Arizona. Migrants and smugglers have taken advantage of these open, unmanned gates in the past in remote regions of the border.
January 14, 2020
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that border wall construction may impact 14 square miles of native habitat on 30 separate tracts of its land in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Since it is federally owned, it is the first land in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley sector targeted by the government for wall construction. The Fish and Wildlife Service owns 135 individual tracts of land comprising 105,000 acres that stretch along the last 275 river miles from Falcon Dam to the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge network has been in the making for 40 years, is still growing, and has cost $82 million so far.
January 3, 2020
- Laiken Jordahl, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity in Arizona, notes most of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Section 102” waivers issued in 2019 affected ecologically sensitive parts of the 90-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border. Section 102 of the 2005 Real ID Act also waives the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and threatens the ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham and Hia-Ced O’odham tribes. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), a border-wall supporter, tells the Tucson Sentinel that the waivers are necessary “to secure the southern border.”