The ecologically devastating border wall requires a new fund of $8.6 billion as proposed in the 2020 budget by President Donald Trump as per the NPR report on Monday. It means even after a 35-day government shutdown, the White House is not withdrawing the demand and fighting the Congress for the same.
According to the environmental groups, this will result in a devastating effect on wildlife and communities living in the borderland.
The funding battle over $5.7 billion with Congress for the border wall project from 2018 end led to the government shutdown for the most extended period in U.S. history which is also the reason behind the “irreparable” damage to some national parks.
“President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement Sunday. “The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.”
Trump’s 2020 budget proposed a cut of 23% in State Department funding. A 15 percent cut in the budget of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and a most significant 31 percent cut in the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is a proposal for a 7.4 percent increase in the budget for Homeland Security.
Russell Vought, acting White House Budget Director, told Morning Edition,
In a time of $1 trillion deficits, we can no longer afford some of these activities.
The conservation group, Defenders of Wildlife, released an interactive story map on the impact of the border wall on nature and communities in Texas’s Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) some days before this news. As per the opinion of the Defenders of Wildlife, on the map, in a press release, the map acts in lieu of a statement of environmental impact that has been refused by the Trump administration to conduct.
“The Lower Rio Grande Valley has become ground zero for the Trump administration in its pursuit of a border wall that will destroy precious landscapes and communities,” President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, Jamie Rappaport Clark said in a statement. “This region is home to some of the most biodiverse habitat in the United States and is crucial to the survival of endangered species like the ocelot.”
The Lower Rio Grande Valley is the home to 700 and more species of vertebrate, butterflies of 300 species, 300 and more bird species and minimum 18 threatened or endangered species. The concrete or steel barrier of 115 miles already exists along the Texas / Mexico border, and enough funds have been earmarked by the Congress to build concrete and steel wall of 88 more miles in the LRGV in 2018 and 2019.
The Trump administration has issued the legal waivers for 35 miles of fence and contracts for 14 miles. As Defenders of Wildlife said, the construction of the wall would seal off parts of the National Wildlife Refuge of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The planned construction would also threaten the sites like the National Butterfly Center, the Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, and the La Lomita chapel in Mission, Texas but the construction is yet to be funded.
The map also shows the impact that will fall on the communities separating them from their homes, professions and recreation trails including the stakeholder’s quote like Nayda Alvarez, the property owner:
“I have lived here all my life. This land belonged to my great-grandparents since this area was part of Mexico. Unlike some people [who] say that we might be first generation — no, my parents and great-grandparents have been here forever … I’m not losing a piece of my land. I’m actually going to lose my house.”