A coalition of immigrants’ rights and environmental groups, including the Southwest Environmental Center and the ACLU Border Rights Center, published an updated report documenting the environmental, humanitarian, and economic destruction border communities would face should President Trump succeed in expanding the border wall. The updated report details where wall expansion is planned and reveals information on the ongoing and wide-ranging damage from border wall policies over the past year.
The original report – “Death, Damage and Failure: Past, Present, and Future Impacts of Walls on the U.S.-Mexico Border” – was published in September 2018 and documented the increased danger, environmental impact, and economic toll suffered by local communities because of border militarization and the construction of border barriers. The report is based on extensive research and first-hand experience from the authors.
Since the release of the 2018 report, Congress awarded the Trump administration more than 1.3 billion taxpayer dollars to expand and update the border wall in specific areas, despite the clear harms and ineffectiveness of existing border walls. In total the Trump administration has more than $10 billion in funds for border wall construction, including almost $7 billion diverted after Trump declared a national emergency. The majority of these funds currently face an ACLU lawsuit.
The 2019 update to the border wall report reveals that the ongoing and potential wall expansion would result in:
- Hundreds of municipal and private landowners in the Rio Grande Valley losing property. In one Texas county alone, the administration intends to acquire 866 parcels of land from 540 distinct owners
- Worsening flooding that would risk the property and lives of communities along both sides of the Rio Grande river
- A wall cutting through the San Pedro, Arizona’s last undammed free-flowing river
- Destruction of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which will suffer irreversible habitat loss and fragmentation
The 2019 update to “Death, Damage and Failure” is a joint project of the ACLU Border Rights Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the Southwest Environmental Center, and the Sierra Club. The organizations call for an end to further congressional appropriation for additional border wall construction, even through the use of continuing resolutions.
“Trump’s wasteful, ineffective border wall is based on false rhetoric and violates the rights of border communities,” stated Astrid Dominguez, director of the ACLU Border Rights Center. “Stopping border wall construction is not enough – border residents have already suffered extensively from these expensive, destructive, divisive, barriers. Congress must reject any and all funding sources for the Trump’s wall construction, which depends on taking private property and bulldozing precious, irreplaceable borderlands.”
“We stand firmly opposed to walls in our community. We know that border walls do not stop migration; they only place people in more dangerous condition," said Norma Herrera, border wall specialist for the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network. "Border walls in our region condemn private property, endanger wildlife and nature reserves, destroy historic cemeteries and sacred native sites, and increase the risk of catastrophic flooding. The RGV community has shown the country what a humane response to migration looks like. We value human dignity, and we welcome migrants fleeing unsafe environments and seeking opportunity. To do anything less is to deny our shared humanity.”
“Trump’s wall is plowing through some of the most beautiful, sacred and biologically diverse landscapes in the country,” said Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The wall won’t do a thing to stop human or drug smuggling, but it will irreparably harm wildlife and communities. Congress must step in immediately to rescind the funds Trump stole for this ridiculous vanity project.”
The report is available online here: https://www.aclutx.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/borderwallreport_2019update_fullreport_1.pdf