• February 9, 2023

With Border Wall Construction Finally On Hold, Activists Worry About What’s Next : NPR

A reinforced section of the US-Mexico border fence seen in eastern Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico on January 20. President Biden signed an executive action and suspended construction of the massive wall for 60 days. Guillermo Arias / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption

Toggle labeling

Guillermo Arias / AFP via Getty Images

A reinforced section of the US-Mexico border fence seen in eastern Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico on January 20. President Biden signed an executive action and suspended construction of the massive wall for 60 days.

Guillermo Arias / AFP via Getty Images

The bulldozers, excavators, concrete trucks and water transporters are parked. The construction workers are gone. And hundreds of 30-foot-tall steel plates are stacked up and down along the US-Mexico border.

As promised, President Biden stopped the construction of the massive wall – the signature project of former President Donald Trump. The new administration has called for a two-month suspension while border guards determine what to do next.

“We are cautiously optimistic and are definitely celebrating. We all raised a glass of mescal on the night the order was given!” said Laiken Jordahl of the Tucson Center for Biodiversity.

“We have been fighting this project for years and this is the first time we can take a step back and take a deep breath,” he added.

While opponents of the Wall celebrate in the border areas, they also say the struggle could enter a new phase.

Activists say environmentally sensitive areas that have been bulldozed and closed wildlife corridors need to be restored. Some oppose other types of security measures that the Biden government may impose, such as a patrol road and surveillance cameras that they say will “militarize” the border.

The Biden government has not disclosed the fate of the Border Wall – one of the largest federal construction projects in US history. During the 60-day hiatus, White House officials plan to investigate how “funds can be diverted and contracts reused”.

Contractors built 453 miles of wall in the past four years. Almost 300 more miles of wall has been contracted but remains unfinished.

Trump's border wall builders continue, although projects may never be completed

The government should could save about $ 2.6 billion if construction does not continue. The premature termination of contracts also means the payment of cancellation fees in the tens of millions.

Biden’s Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer confirmed to NPR that every wall construction project from San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley has been suspended – the executive order Biden signed the day he took office and gave officers seven days to do so. When asked about the next steps, the DHS referred NPR to the White House.

According to Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, DHS is ready to demolish the wall but continue with other planned security installations. He has nearly 200 border miles in his district and says he contacted the department last week.

“I don’t like the wall. But we have to use other things – cameras, technology, drones and all that,” said Cuellar. “I understand, some people don’t want anything. They don’t want cameras; they don’t want lights, they don’t want underground sensors. And I’m sorry, but we have a responsibility to secure the border.”

The crews worked around the clock and ran around the clock until the day of inauguration. They had blown up the mountainsides in Arizona to make way for sections of wall that would likely never be built.

Contractors have fenced off more than half of the Arizona-Mexico border in the environmentally sensitive Sonoran Desert.

U.S. workers are building the new 13-mile border wall construction project in the desert between Sunlad Park, NM and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico on Jan. 15. Herika Martinez / AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Toggle labeling

Herika Martinez / AFP via Getty Images

U.S. workers are building the new 13-mile border wall project in the desert between Sunlad Park, New Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico on Jan. 15.

Herika Martinez / AFP via Getty Images

Gary Nabhan, a longtime ecologist and writer in southern Arizona, says that in just one protected wilderness, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the wall blocked 52 wildlife corridors where animals are known to cross in search of food and water.

For activists like Nabhan, their energies are now turning to restoration.

They call on the government to “tear down the wall in the critical wildlife corridors, which are usually irrigated places, rivers and oases,” Nabhan said. “It will take a Herculean effort to undo the damage.”

Most landowners on the Rio Grande never wanted a huge security fence. Property owners opposed to the wall have long claimed that Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the DHS, could replace steel and concrete with technology.

Beto Cardenas, an attorney for Sacred Heart Children’s Home, an orphanage in Laredo whose property was on its way to the barrier, said: “Given that there was a hiatus, we would of course hope the Biden administration would there is no need for a physical barrier. “

Cardenas, who worked as an immigration expert on Capitol Hill, says unspent funds may be directed to some other type of border security, such as high-tech autonomous surveillance towers.

“I would expect to see investments in all sorts of other people, infrastructure and technology that are needed to protect the southwestern border,” said Cardenas.

But even that would meet with resistance from activists like Tricia Cortez with the No Border Wall coalition in Laredo.

“We don’t want direction to move from a physical wall to a virtual wall and continue on this path of militarizing the border,” she said.

Jack

Read Previous

Here’s what’s in the $600 billion relief plan from 10 Republican senators

Read Next

Using Electronic Schematics to Create Your Own Circuit Boards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *