The infamous wall has started a phase of construction along the Arizona and Mexico border much to the dismay of conservationists. It will be skirting around a stretch of protected land that is recognized as a UNESCO international biosphere reserve.
The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is located in the Sonoran desert, and it is the only place in the U.S. where the Organ Pipe cactus grows. The desert preserve is also full of other unique plant and animal life.
The project is being overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who has already relocated 110 cacti and other desert plants out of the construction zone. Yet, environmentalists are worried that the rush to complete 450 miles of wall by election day 2020 will make them less than careful, especially since Trump has already “joked” about pardoning those that break the law in order to get his “big, beautiful wall” built.
NPR reports, that the Trump administration has already waived 41 different federal environmental laws to expedite the construction process. Work on the wall is moving ahead even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has warned that 23 endangered species could be threatened, including the Sonoran pronghorn antelope which calls the area around the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument home.
The National Park Service worries that wall construction will damage or destroy 22 archeological sites. An Arizona representative of the National Parks Conservation Association, Kevin Dahl, expressed his frustration to NPR saying:
“This is a wall to fulfill a campaign promise. It’s really clear. And that’s what makes so many of us so angry. It’s being done so fast outside the rule of law and we know it’ll have an incredible impact.”
Due to the rapid pace that Trump wishes to keep, The Department of Homeland Security is issuing waivers left and right. These waivers exempt the construction contractors from adhering to things like the Clean Water Act or the Archeological Resources Protection Act.
It isn’t only the plants, animals, and archeology that will be negatively impacted. The wall will also encroach on the Tohono O’odham Nation’s land which can be found on either side of the Mexico and Arizona border. Ned Norris, Jr. a Tribal Chairman discussed the difficulty the wall will cause:
“We have lived in this area forever. And so a full-blown 30-foot wall would make it that much difficult for our tribal citizens in Mexico and in the U.S. to be able to actively participate with family gatherings, with ceremonial gatherings.”
Trump has shown little care for the environment since he has taken his place in the Oval Office and has rolled back numerous environmental protections.
It is not very likely that the plight of the indigenous people affected by his vanity wall will sway his opinion either, especially since Trump’s presidential idol is Andrew Jackson.