MEMO: Border Wall Construction Accelerates during Global Pandemic


As the country faces a global pandemic, the Trump administration is ramping up construction of its border wall in the Southwest— at the detriment of wildlands, towns and health care workers who are facing limited resources in their hospitals and communities. 

NEW: During the pandemic, new walls are going up in AZ, NM, CA, and TX.

The Trump administration continues transferring money from military accounts— even as the reauthorization process faces three ongoing legal challenges— to construct the wall. Most recently, the administration pulled funds from overseas projects to backfill domestic military construction projects it had previously raided to pay for construction. Border wall projects are now estimated to total over $15 billion.

While the administration continues funneling billions of dollars into construction, hospitals and frontline workers are still facing severely under-resourced working conditions. Healthcare workers, members of Congress and community groups are calling for an immediate halt on construction and shifting of border wall funds to COVID-19 response. 

See footage of destruction happening in the Barry Goldwater Range and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona and construction photos from the Jacumba Wilderness in California. Projects in Arizona and California are currently slicing through Tribal land on the Quechan and Cocopah reservations, as well as many sacred sites important to the O’odham and other Native American Nations. 

Wall construction in the Tinajas Altas Mountains. Photo credit: Russ McSpadden/Center for Biological Diversity. 

In New Mexico, at least one “man camp” for out-of-state construction crews have been proposed or established in border communities that are under-resourced and vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19. 

In Texas, the Trump Administration has accelerated the seizure of private lands using eminent domain in order to build hazardous border walls along the flood-prone Rio Grande River. Wall construction using private funds was recently imposed on lands adjacent to the National Butterfly Center.

The Sierra Club recently obtained documents from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court revealing several hundred miles of new wall projects that are slated to start over the next few weeks. Fisher Industries— a company awarded more than $400 million in contracts for Arizona projects— has close ties to the administration and is currently under federal investigation. The court documents also show a project of two parallel walls along a half-mile of border near Yuma, AZ costing up to $106 million and being built over Quechan Tribal land. 

Dan Millis from the Sierra Club and Laiken Jordahl from the Center for Biological Diversity are available for interviews. Contact for use of photos and videos.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit