Impeached president Donald Trump lost the election (it feels great to write that), but his stupid and racist border fencing construction continues (it doesn’t feel great to write that). In fact, NPR reports that not only is construction continuing, the administration is rushing to build as much as possible before Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20. The president-elect has vowed to end construction.
The outgoing administration’s rush includes seizing more property from landowners in Texas, where a significant portion of the border area is privately owned. “We're still seeing filings,” Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Roberto Lopez told NPR. “We're still seeing this happen. And the government isn't stopping or slowing. It seems like they're trying to speed up.”
In Texas, “the wall's progress has been slowed down by a tedious legal condemnation process. The government has contracted 121 miles of wall in the Laredo region, but they haven't acquired a single acre to put it on,” the report continued. “Lots of landowners fought the government in court, and the delay tactics worked, says Tricia Cortez with the local No Border Wall Coalition.” She told NPR they feel “confident that the wall is dead and that nothing more will happen between now and the inauguration.”
But in other areas of the borderlands, the administration is going full-speed ahead in its destruction. In the Guadalupe Canyon and the Coronado National Memorial areas of Arizona, “work crews are dynamiting the sides of pristine mountains and bulldozing access roads in this stunning landscape,” NPR said. The Center for Biological Diversity’s Laiken Jordahl, who has used social media to document the administration’s intentional disregard of the region, called it “destruction for destruction's sake.”
“[E]very single day, the Department of Homeland Security continues to dynamite, to blow up, these rugged mountains in order to clear a path for a wall that, in all likelihood, will never be built,” he said in the report.
Biden said this past August that if he won the presidency, "[t]here will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1,” NPR also previously reported. What happens with existing miles of fencing put up by Trump is so far unknown.
The Supreme Court last month announced it had agreed to hear arguments around the administration’s money grab to fund the fencing that Mexico was supposed to pay for. “The ACLU, which represents the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition in the lawsuit, has said it would seek to tear down sections of the wall if it wins the case,” USA Today reported.
Pulling down fencing built by the Trump administration is justified not just by the fact that courts have ruled that the impeached president didn’t have the authority to put it up in the way he did, but also because it’s vital in repairing at least some of the environmental destruction it caused, including the severing of waterways, wildlife corridors, and communities.
“The damage the border wall has inflicted in just the past year is incalculable,” Jordahl wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times this month. “Much of it will last forever. No amount of money could repay the O’odham and all Indigenous people of the borderlands for the sacred sites, cultural history and natural heritage that’s been destroyed.’
“To right these wrongs, we must start somewhere,” he continued. “Tearing down the wall would be a good start.”