The Southwest Environmental Center has joined with a growing number of conservation, human rights and immigration groups, as well as many state and local elected officials calling on President Obama to halt further construction of new fencing and high intensity lighting along the U.S. Mexico border.
The border wall as it looks for more than 50 miles downstream from El Paso, splitting wildlife populations and cutting off access to the Rio Grande. The river and Mexico are to the right.
In recent years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has built almost 700 miles of fencing along the border. The fence will be a potential disaster for wildlife, blocking their movement and preventing access to the resources they need for their survival. Many species will be affected, including pronghorn, ocelots, mountain lions, javelina, coatimundis, deer, bears, etc. in important wildlife areas such as the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge, and the Rio Grande near El Paso.
Of particular concern is the impact on endangered jaguars trying to make a comeback in the Southwest. SWEC has supported efforts by conservationists and ranchers to establish a jaguar reserve in northern Sonora, just 120 miles from the U.S. border, from which animals could disperse northward. These animals may now find their passage blocked in some areas.A mountain lion attempts unsuccessfully to cross the border in southern Arizona.
The fence could also block the migration route of one of the few remaining wild bison herds in North America that now roams between Chihuahua and New Mexico. Even birds could be harmed by the miles of proposed stadium lights along the Rio Grande—a major migratory flyway for many birds.
As former Arizona governor, and now Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano once said, "show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder." The border wall is a band-aid approach to the complex challenges of illegal immigration, terrorism and drug smuggling. We need a comprehensive approach to these challenges that does not harm the border environment and wildlife.