Consider consequences of building border wall

The border wall will affect the natural environment.

The national debate about border security doesn’t often focus on the natural environment. Hundreds of miles of public lands, including six national parks, sit along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Barriers along the U.S.-Mexico frontier can destroy or fragment habitats and disrupt migration routes for a variety of wild species including jaguar, ocelot, collared peccary, pronghorn antelope and black bear.

Barriers also can block access to scarce water and food resources and separate animals from mates.

Fences can compound storm damage. During a 2008 storm in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, silt and debris built up at a border fence.

Flood waters consequently rose to seven feet, flooding local businesses and damaging wildlife habitat. Numerous environmental laws had been waived to construct the fence, which should have been designed to accommodate much more severe weather than the 2008 storm, but wasn’t.

The Department of Homeland Security has the power to waive all legal requirements to quickly build border barriers.

The agency is permitted to bypass environmental impact statements and ignore the effect of construction on natural and cultural resources in parks. The park pervice has no authority to stop the waiver of these laws.

Border towns near these and other national parks are among the safest in the country, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, yet the current administration and some in Congress have repeatedly described the border as dangerous, which discourages visitors and hurts local economies.

Border security is important, but let us think about the consequences a total wall would do and the price to build it.

One thing to think about is that we have more illegal immigrants from India and China than Mexico and South America.

David McCoy

Hollidaysburg

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