An impenetrable wall would push borderland wildlife like jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and ocelots to the brink of extinction.
For Immediate Release
Homeland Security Spending Bill Funds Border Wall Construction, Species Destruction
WASHINGTON (July 12, 2017) – The House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee is set to approve $1.6 billion for the expansion of the U.S.-Mexico border wall as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s fiscal year 2018 spending bill, meeting the White House’s FY 2018 budget request from earlier this year.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“The House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee has acquiesced to President Trump’s request. But Congress works for the American people, most of whom oppose funding for the expansion of the wall along the southern border.
“An impenetrable wall would divide families and communities along the border and bisect and isolate important Southwestern landscapes, pushing borderland wildlife like jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and ocelots to the brink of extinction.
“The damage of an expanded border wall would be irreparable environmentally, socially and economically. There are better ways to use $1.6 billion, like funding science programs that could help us understand how climate change - a real and serious threat to wildlife and communities alike - could pose a threat to our national security. In addition, spending such a large amount of federal funding to bolster political theater and myths about border insecurity is shameful, especially when there are many programs and communities deserving of federal funding where we are seeing proposed cuts.
“Budget proposals that aim to expand the border wall are irresponsible and go against our core American values - equality, justice and the preservation of our natural heritage.”
On Jan. 25, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” which called for the expansion of the border wall. In May, the Trump administration released its FY 2018 budget proposal, which includes funding for an expansion of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Wildlife along the Border
More than 600 miles of border walls and barriers have been constructed in all four southern border states – California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
In California, border barriers affect more than a dozen endangered and rare species, including the endangered Arroyo toad and Quino checkerspot butterfly. Any extension of the border wall would bisect the Tijuana River that meanders through the locally protected Marron Valley in San Diego County and the federally protected Jacumba Wilderness Area, cutting off important migration routes for the highly endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep, devastating recovery efforts.
In Arizona, the border wall significantly affects the Sonoran Desert, home to endangered Sonoran pronghorn, cactus ferruginous pygmy owls and desert tortoises, and the world-renowned Sky Islands, so named for the “islands” of forested habitat rising out of a “sea” of surrounding desert and grasslands.
In New Mexico, important wildlife habitats are found in the state’s ‘boot heel,’ a mosaic of public and private lands largely managed for conservation. There are also expansive U.S. Forest Service lands in the state that are critical for jaguar movement between the U.S. and Mexico.
In Texas, walls and barriers block people and animals from access to the Rio Grande River, an iconic and vital water source for communities and wildlife alike.
Because of its large-scale, devastating effects, climate change has become a leading threat for wildlife and their habitat. While climate change is typically associated with species like the polar bear and monarch butterflies, climate change affects species, their habitat and their migration path everywhere. If the patterns of climate change continue, the best available science shows that southern-dwelling species will migrate north. A border wall would disrupt their search of new resources and safer habitats.
In September 2016, a government report showed that climate change is likely to pose a significant national security challenge for the U.S. over the next two decades by heightening social and political tensions, threatening the stability of some countries and increasing risks to human health.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.