President Joe Biden on day one terminated the so-called “national emergency” his predecessor declared as an excuse to build his border wall, ordering a halt to construction “as soon as possible but in no case later than seven days” while his administration reassessed the legality of the project. Biden last week then informed Congress of the termination, telling leaders that he had “determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted.”
But weeks after Biden ordered that pause to wall construction at the southern border, environmental advocates have discovered what appears to be bulldozers continuing to level through a mountain and critical wildlife habitat in Arizona, “in an apparent violation of President Biden’s proclamation halting border wall construction,” Center for Biological Diversity said. “The footage was reportedly shot on Wednesday, Feb. 10, by members of the Tucson Samaritans, who shared it with the Center.”
“ALERT: Contractors are still hard at work building Trump’s #BorderWall,” tweeted Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner with the center. In the one minute and eighteen second clip he shared on Twitter, at least two bulldozers and an excavator can be seen tearing into the Pajarito Mountains in Arizona. “They’re leveling mountains & destroying jaguar habitat in an apparent violation of Biden’s order to halt construction,” he said. “@POTUS must investigate & stop this madness for good. Footage shot by Tucson Samaritans.”
Advocates said that it appears that not only are construction crews continuing with building in violation of the president’s order, they are continuing to tear into the habitat at detriment to precious wildlife in the region.
“This section of wall, west of Nogales, is a part of a larger 74-mile stretch being built through remote, mountainous terrain that includes the last remaining corridors jaguars use to move back and forth between the United States and Mexico,” the Center for Biological Diversity said. “Many other animals use these remote areas to migrate across the landscape. A 2017 Center report identified 93 threatened and endangered species along the 2,000-mile border that would be harmed by Trump’s wall.”
“The president’s Jan. 20 executive order directed that work ‘on each construction project on the southern border wall’ be paused ‘as soon as possible, but in no case later than seven days’ from the date of the order,” the Center for Biological Diversity continued. “It shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall,” Biden’s proclamation said. “I am also directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall.”
Yet construction crews continue harming the land, according to what’s seen in the video. “A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson did not confirm or deny the report, but said the agency remains fully committed to implementing President Biden’s immigration and border security-related executive actions,” Arizona Public Media reported. Considering the previous president corruptly pushed for favored companies to get border wall contracts, it would not come as a shock if contractors were knowingly violating Biden’s order out of their loyalties.
One favored contractor, Fisher Sand and Gravel admitted to tax fraud in 2009, 60 Minutes reported in September. “They’ve racked up thousands of environmental and safety violations in six states, and almost $2 million in fines.” Advocates say that President Biden must not only ensure that all construction ends now, but that the federal government use its authority and cancel the contracts as soon as possible.
“These alarming videos seem to show construction crews destroying every acre of pristine wildlands they can lay their hands on, in what appears to be blatant disregard of Biden’s order halting construction,” said Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner at the Center. “The Biden administration should investigate this immediately and stop any construction that’s still occurring. Pausing work on the wall isn’t enough. The new administration must cancel these contracts for good and work with border communities and tribal nations to repair all that Trump destroyed.”
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