New Mexico border wall construction begins in Santa Teresa
Construction of a new $73 million bollard wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in Santa Teresa, N.M. began last week, marking President Trump's first victory in building his promised border wall.
Construction of the wall, which is to replace existing 4-foot high posts that serve as vehicle barriers in the area, is expected to be completed by March 2019, a spokesperson for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said. The wall will stand 18 feet to 30 feet tall in different areas, depending on the terrain.
The funding for the new wall was appropriated by Congress in the 2017 Omnibus Budget Act. At the time, Republicans and Democrats in Congress argued over whether the bill contained funding for new border wall construction, with Democrats maintaining (incorrectly) that it didn't.
The need for the new wall is questionable. The number of apprehensions in the El Paso Sector decreased dramatically over the past decade, according to CBP annual reports. In the 2007 fiscal year, agents apprehended 75,464 migrants illegally crossing the border.
The Southwest Environmental Center and other groups have sued over the project, saying the federal government overstepped its authority in waiving laws as a way to speed construction. A federal judge recently sided with the government in a similar case in California. That decision is being appealed.
SWEC opposes wall construction because it harms wildlife, and contributes to further militarization of border communities. The wall will prevent the movement of wild animals such as jaguars and Mexican wolves across the landscape to find the water, food and other resources needed to survive.
A CBP spokeperson admitted that larger animals such as deer and coyotes will not be able to cross the wall, but that neither animal is endangered in this area, which is irrelevant from an ecological point of view.