President Trump’s ambitious plan of the border wall is going to hit multiple areas. The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas is one of the locations that will be impacted by the wall intersecting the wildlife refuge. A protest rally is planned on Saturday, 27th at the Texas Wildlife Center against the construction of the wall.
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is marking 75th anniversary this year. The 2080-acre site, situated on the banks of Rio Grande River, is a haven for migratory birds, butterflies, and ocelots. The campaigners fear that the border wall will be adversely impacting the sanctuary.
Scott Nichol of the Sierra Club said, “It’s one of the most bio diverse refuges in the United States.” Sierra Club is an environmental advocacy organization that is holding the protest on a site near the sanctuary.
Talking about the ocelot – small, spotted wild cats – that are endangered in the US as a result of destruction of their natural habitat. The campaigners fear that the wall would trap them, restrict their movements, and kill them if the area floods in rains or a storm. Nichol said, “That basically turns the refuge into a death trap, the waters rise and the animals all drown.”
The Rio Grande valley is home to 1.4 million people. In South Texas the Rio Grande River creates a natural border but some of the parts are closed by levees and more than 50 miles of fencing that acts as official demarcation between the US and Mexico. The ‘enforcement zone’ of 150 ft. that will be created around the wall. This will be harmful for the wildlife as the vegetation will be destroyed to create gravel path for the US Border Petrol and the area will be brightly lit all the time.
The Rio Grande valley is by far one of the busiest sections of the south-west frontier for the possible illegal migration. The Trump government wants to initiate the pilot project of expanding and fortifying the barrier wall from Santa Ana. This will lead to 18 ft. bollard fence built on the top of a concrete wall and will replace the existing levees.
Constructing the wall and the enforcement zone on the land owned by the government is fairly easy for the Trump administration. It will also help the President to fulfil one of the core campaign promises. However, to execute this project the government will have to obtain land, which at places is a private property. The process of acquiring the land – known as eminent domain – is a costly and time-consuming task for the government. According to Efrén Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project, more than 300 cases are filed that are related with the existing fencing and about 70 of those cases are pending for more than a decade. Olivares is scheduled to address the protest rally on Saturday.
Olivares said, “If they had the money for it they technically, legally, could start doing anything because the land already belonged to the federal government, so if they want to destroy a natural reserve they could waive all the laws.”
The Department of Homeland Security can bypass the legal requirements of conducting environment impact assessment by stating the need to expedite wall construction for border security. The same has been observed last year near Sand Diego and last week in El Paso.
The Texas activists are also worried about the practical and psychological impact of a militarized border. The another cause of worry is the border funding is used by Washington to battle over the future of DACA program initiated by President Barack Obama to protect many thousands of undocumented young people