While Trump's border wall becomes a reality, Arizona conservationists cry foul over biological, cultural destruction
The construction of the massive barrier poses a threat to the local biosphere reserve and endangered animal species apart from over 20 archaeological sites. Even local tribes will be affected as family gatherings will now be a difficult affair
President Donald Trump eventually had his way on the border wall project along the Mexico border to stop infiltration but it's not just his political opponents who are upset with it.
According to a report in Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR), conservationists are livid with the execution of the project which is one of the top election-time sellers for Trump.
They fear that in a haste to complete the 450-mile wall by the time the 2020 election comes, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Defense Department personnel will ruin one of America's most biologically and culturally rich areas.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project, has assured that the project will not harm the environment but conservationists are not convinced.
The wall is set to go around the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument — recognized by the UN as an international biosphere reserve — and cactus types like ocotillo, saguaro and organ pipe are reportedly being relocated but it was being observed that bulldozers were in play to mow down old cactus columns, the NPR report added.
The CBP later said that while 110 desert plant species were relocated, the unhealthy ones got cleaned up. This has made environmentalists more worried about the "political project".
Animal life, archaeological sites also under threat
Even the fauna is not safe. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has warned that because of the wall with its bright lights and human activities in the area, as many 23 endangered and at-risk species could be hit.
And culturally, too, the project is threatening to harm at least 22 archaeological sites, according to the National Park Service. The government seems to be least bothered as it has waived 41 federal environmental laws to hasten the project.
Trump has been speaking in favor of the wall since his electoral campaign in 2016. Last December, the government even witnessed a partial shutdown because of a political row over funding the wall between Trump and the Democrats.
The Congress refused to sanction funds for the wall’s construction in Arizona. Later, under Trump's national emergency declaration, the defense department reprogrammed counter-drug funding to build the barrier.
The Republican leader will make the most out of the project in next year's election and the quick pace of making it a reality is going to leave a trail of destruction behind, believe conservationists.
"This is a wall to fulfil 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," Kevin Dahl, Arizona representative for the National Parks Conservation Association, was quoted as saying by the NPR.
Local tribes have also expressed their disappointment with the project saying it will make their family gatherings or those during ceremonies with fellow tribals in Mexico very difficult.