March 18, 2022: Border Briefs

by Emily Matyas
Co-Leader, Sonoran Broadband (AZ)

  • The Department of Interior is holding talks with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about rescinding the waiver authority of environmental laws that helped build the wall. Federal Bill HR 4848 would rescind the laws, but it has not advanced to the Senate yet.
  • Senator Heinrich, D-Colorado, plans to introduce a Senate companion bill to HR 4848. He visited the border in New Mexico earlier in March, saw the gaps in the wall that might be closed, and expressed strong concern about keeping wildlife crossings. But, on March 9th, Federal Appropriations decided NOT to rescind Border Wall Funding. In particular, the Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 allocation for building border walls in the Rio Grande Valley were not rescinded.
  • Work on closing wall gaps in Texas continues. Funding by private donors comes from crowd sourcing called “We Build the Wall.” Some builders claim that they are only repairing levees near the Rio Grande River, but it is actual wall they are building. Texas Tribune story here.
  • The National Butterfly Center in Texas, along the banks of the Rio Grande, remains closed after a physical altercation between the director and a Republican Congressional candidate and lies about “child trafficking” through the Center from a media organization associated with Steve Bannon. NY Times story here.
  • Friendship Park, the Binational Park between San Diego, CA, and Tijuana, Baja California, also remains closed. Families are not allowed to meet at the wall, as they did in the past, and the Border Patrol has closed access to the garden on the American side.
  • Arizona Broadband leaders submitted comments to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) environmental mitigation along the Border Wall area.
  • The leaders participated in a Zoom meeting with CBP in late January and together, submitted comments to a story map of the Tucson Sector of the Border Wall. Some mitigation could be positive, such as reducing roads and erosion, repairing damage to blasted mountains (though it will take nature years to really mend itself), and filling in trenches. Broadband leaders are concerned, however, that wildlife openings are large enough for mammals such as jaguars and deer to cross, and the existing gaps in the wall are not closed.
  • Erick Meza of the Sierra Club, has posted two Sierra Club Border events are happening in late March and early April. The first, an art show, the next, a bike event on the border. Contact Erick at: erick.meza@sierraclub.org. See flyers below: