Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 1, 2017

Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121, bhartl@biologicaldiversity.org

Must-pass Spending Bill Includes Funding for Trump's Border Wall

Replaces Vehicle Barriers With 'Pedestrian Barriers'

WASHINGTON— Congressional leaders in both parties agreed Sunday to include $146 million in the federal budget for the construction of new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. The replacement of vehicle barriers with pedestrian barriers will step up border militarization, continue to harm local communities, and have devastating effects on wildlife, blocking the movement of jaguars, ocelots and other animals. The budget agreement also includes $77 million for new border roads that will provide the needed infrastructure to build future segments of the wall.

Despite claims by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats, a pedestrian barrier is a wall, as it is the only type of border-control structure that deters pedestrian entry.

“Don’t be fooled by the misleading claims coming from Congress: Trump just got a down-payment on his destructive wall,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s wall is as divisive as it is dangerous, not just for people but for wildlife too. Make no mistake, though. This fight is just beginning.”

On April 12 the Center and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva sued the Trump administration over the proposed border wall and other border-security measures, calling on federal agencies to conduct an in-depth investigation of the proposal’s environmental impacts. At least 50 species near the border are already endangered, like the Sonoran pronghorn, gray wolf and ocelot. Studies show that border barriers divide natural habitat, impact breeding levels and can make it more difficult for animals to forage for food and water.

“Converting vehicle barriers to pedestrian barriers is exactly the type of impact that should be assessed for the enormous environmental havoc it will wreak,” said Hartl. 

Since 2001 — the last time the federal government reviewed environmental impacts on the U.S.-Mexico border — enforcement programs and associated environmental impacts have increased exponentially, including the deployment of thousands of new border agents, construction of hundreds of miles of border walls and fences, construction of thousands of miles of roads, the installation of operating camps and other military and security infrastructure. These physical impediments, as well as 24-hour surveillance lighting and road network all function to block critical movement routes and threaten the survival of numerous species. 

Border wall

Photo by Russ McSpadden, Center for Biological Diversity. Border wall and barrier photos are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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