Congress Members Ask DHS to Repair Damage

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It’s no secret that the 18-foot steel border wall is devastating the environment and disrupting wildlife corridors along our southern border. Environmentalists and landowners have filed lawsuits in federal court — to no avail — in order to compel the Department of Homeland Security to lessen the destructive impacts of the wall.

The Sierra Club commended 43 congressional members today for sending a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. The members ask DHS to work with other agencies to lessen the impacts of the wall, fund efforts to buy comparable land for wildlife and provide environmental training for their employees.

In the letter, the congressional members wrote the following to Napolitano: “As you are aware, hundreds of miles of new border fences and patrol roads have been constructed by DHS along the US/Mexico border in the past several years. This massive federal project has had deleterious consequences upon natural and cultural public resources, and has caused hardship for private land owners, whose lands have been condemned and livelihoods have been disrupted.”

Already $50 million has been allocated to borderlands mitigation, the congressional members note, but far more funding will be necessary to address the extent of the damage done, they wrote.

Besides the damage done there is also the cost of upkeep. We are now the owners of a 670-foot long steel wall which costs anywhere from $2 million to $11 million a mile. Besides the environmental degradation and the destruction of wildlife we will also being paying to keep it upright. The Congressional Research Service estimated it might cost up to $16,000 a mile just to  keep the wall intact.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. She has a master’s in public health from Texas A&M University and a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.