Construction of border walls has not curbed undocumented immigration, but has cost taxpayers an average of $4.5 million per mile! Over 600 miles of border walls and barriers have been constructed in all four southern border states, with dozens of miles still being constructed or planned. The authority given to the Secretary of Homeland Security by the Real ID Act has been used to waive federal laws along the border so that walls, roads, and other harmful infrastructure are built without regard to environmental protection or public health and safety.
This reckless project has meant dire consequences for vast expanses of pristine wild lands, including wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and national forest lands, among others. Several species of wildlife have been observed and photographed stranded by the border wall, suggesting that many endangered species are suffering the same fate. The border wall in Nogales caused severe flooding that buried downtown homes and businesses underneath six feet of water, drowning two people and costing millions of dollars in damages. In Texas, condemnation proceedings against border municipalities and landowners precede a wall that blocks people and animals from access to the Rio Grande River. Hundreds of people continue to die each year from dehydration and exposure as border walls funnel migrants deeper into the desert.
We support solutions such as interagency cooperation among enforcement agencies such as the Border Patrol and land management entities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Sierra Club supports rational border policies that allow those on the ground to gain operational control of the border rather than adhering to symbolic mandates to construct walls. The Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009 (HR 2076) provides guidance to move towards a more sane and just border policy.
To learn more about Sierra Club’s borderlands program, visit http://www.sierraclub.org/borderlands.