The Obama-Biden administration Built more than 100 miles of Border Wall. The Biden-Harris management Should Tear wall surfaces Down.

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Border walls involved symbolize Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and were prioritized during his administration. The 400 mile of border wall that he has actually overseen will certainly inflict ongoing damage upon aboriginal American nations and border towns, vulnerable ecosystems and also endangered species, for as lengthy as castle stand.

President-elect Biden has actually been far quieter concerning his plans for border walls. Once pressed during an NPR interview he claimed that “not another foot” would be built while the is in office, i beg your pardon sounds favor a heavy promise come cancel border wall surface condemnations and construction contracts on work one.

But Joe Biden has been in the White home before, as Vice President during the Obama administration. Instead of halting construction and removing walls, castle built more than 100 miles of new wall follow me the southwest border.

In 2006 then-President bush signed the for sure Fence Act, which dubbed for the erection of hundreds of miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Bush management intended to build 700 miles by December that 2008, as soon as his 2nd term would pertained to an end. By April that 2008 then-Homeland protection Secretary Chertoff had issued waivers that swept aside dozens of federal laws and “all federal, state, or other laws, regulations and legal needs of, deriving from, or pertained to the subject of” the named laws for every one of the to plan border walls.

By the finish of president Bush’s time in office the U.S.-Mexico border to be lined with 278 miles of 15-to-18-foot-tall pedestrian fence and 248 mile of automobile barrier, for a total of 526 miles. Of those, 135 miles had actually been built prior come the i of the secure Fence Act.

The Obama-Biden administration would oversee building of an additional 128 mile of border wall. Once Donald Trump was inaugurated in January of 2017 a total of 654 mile of border obstacle (including both pedestrian fencing and also vehicle barrier) were waiting for him.

Border communities were rightly upset by continued wall surface construction throughout the Obama presidency. Campaigning versus Hillary Clinton in south Texas ahead of the 2008 Texas primary, candidate Obama said, “We need to work v local neighborhoods to address the border in intelligent ways. Us can’t perform it by structure a wall along the border. That’s not going to work.”

Following Barack Obama’s win he got a letter from Commissioners in Cameron County, an area of southern Texas where walls had been planned under the Bush administration but where, as result of the time the took for the federal government to condemn personal property, none had yet been built. To express the wishes of border residents they wrote, “We respectfully ask that you make the cancellation the the border wall surface on the southerly Border a top priority of your administration. Permit us build bridges the friendship, safety, and also prosperity – not wall surfaces of hatred and division.”

Most of the southern Texas walls would need the salvation of personal property, and the overwhelming bulk of landowners in the path of these wall surfaces did not want to sell. Thousands of land condemnations, brought out through Justice room lawyers, were essential in order to develop them. Plenty of of those condemnations were initiated under the shrub Administration, yet they ongoing without pause under the Obama-Biden Administration. In numerous instances the federal government did not obtain possession that properties until 2009 or 2010.

Before Barack Obama and also Joe Biden moved into the White residence not a solitary mile that border wall had been finished in southern Texas’ lower Rio Grande Valley. The mass of building and construction there occurred in 2009 and also 2010, but in a few locations the dragged on into 2011 and 2012. Through the end of their an initial term 54 miles had actually been built through south Texas communities and also wildlife refuges.

At the other finish of the border a section of wall surface planned for California’s Otay mountain Wilderness Area additionally remained unfinished once Barack Obama was inaugurated. Building and construction continued in early 2009, including the dynamiting far of 530,000 cubic yards the rock, which was permitted to tumble into the canyon below. While many of the pedestrian walls and vehicle obstacles in California, Arizona, and new Mexico were developed in the 60-foot wide, federally owned Roosevelt Easement, in ~ Otay the terrain was so rugged the the wall and patrol road had to consistently intrude right into the wilderness area which, according to its commonwealth designation, was claimed to be roadless.

The border wall through Smuggler’s Gulch, a canyon a couple of miles inland native the Pacific, was additionally completed during the Obama-Biden administration. In ~ Smuggler’s Gulch the tops of low hills on either next of the canyon to be demolished, and a 100-foot-tall earthen dam to be built across it in order to develop a level surface ar for the border wall and patrol road. This resulted in serious erosion i m sorry washed into the Tijuana estuary, smothering vegetation under sediment. The culvert supposed to enable the Tijuana flow to happen under the berm likewise ejected flood water with much greater force than in the past, causing nearby properties to experience flood damage.

There were additionally numerous areas where pre-existing border walls were changed under the Obama-Biden administration, consisting of some in El Paso, Texas; near Naco, Arizona; and also where the wall between san Diego and also Tijuana enters the Pacific Ocean. Sections of border wall that were brushed up away by flooding at organ Pipe Cactus nationwide Monument, close to Nogales, Arizona, and also through Andrade, California, to be rebuilt during those eight years together well.

All that the border walls built or replaced throughout the Obama-Biden administration relied ~ above the waivers that federal legislations issued under the Bush management that set aside relevant eco-friendly laws, laws protecting indigenous American tombs and spiritual practices, and regulations expected to shield farmland and also historic sites. The issuance the waivers under the actual ID plot is approximately the discretion the the Secretary of countryside Security, and also the Obama-Biden administration could have opted to comply with federal laws rather than use the preexisting waivers to neglect them when new border walls were put up or larger ones were replaced.

With Joe Biden the winner the the 2020 presidential choice the actions taken by the administration that the was formerly a part of is not just of academic interest. The past deserve to be a predictor the the future, a warning of what can happen if those who care about the borderlands room too complacent.

President Biden will inherit the 30-foot-tall border walls that the Trump administration has run v lands sacred to the O’odham and also Kumeyaay individuals have currently inflicted devastating damage. Dynamite has ripped personally Monument Hill, regardless of the Tohono O’odham nation telling Congress and also Customs and also Border security that there to be burials there. Jacumba and also the flank of Tecate top have similarly been desecrated, despite Kumeyaay protests meant to defend the continues to be of your ancestors that are hidden there. These walls are a ongoing desecration so long as lock stand.

The wall surfaces that the Trump administration blasted v the Peloncillo mountains, that scar the san Bernardino valley, and that cut across wild landscapes all across the southern border, carry the activity of wildlife to a dead stop. Because that endangered species that live in the borderlands that method no access to crucial sources that food and water, and tiny populations that may die out for lack of hereditary diversity. Wall surfaces that cut across Arizona’s san Pedro river and also intrude into the floodplain that Texas’ Rio Grande will certainly inevitably clog through debris during floods, dam water, then experience catastrophic failure, through uprooted concrete and steel swept downriver. The threat to wildlife and also watercourses will certainly not abate uneven those walls space removed. 

President Trump’s border walls, favor those erected by his predecessors, push border crossings into increasingly brutal terrain. This was listed by the government Accountability Office in the summer that 2006, shortly before the certain Fence act passed, when they reported the border cross deaths had doubled as the first border walls went up in California. Border walls in California driven crossings right into the Arizona desert; subsequent border walls in Arizona rerouted crossings into Texas, which because that the past couple of years has seen far much more deaths than Arizona. In the very first 9 month of 2020, even though more crossings (and, in current years, more recorded deaths) emerged in Texas, the continues to be of much more border crossers were recovered in Arizona than in any of the prior 7 years. Border walls are the cause of numerous deaths every year.

So lengthy as border walls continue to be standing those harms will continue, and also will be compounded. The Biden-Harris management should not, therefore, take on the stance that the Obama-Biden administration did once they inherited recurring border wall projects.

In one interview end the summer Joe Biden said that, “There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration.”

For those of united state on the floor in border communities “not another foot” has a specific, concrete meaning. It is literal, no abstract. That does not exclude wall surfaces that are in the plan stage. That does not exclude contracts that have been awarded, but where work crews have actually yet to dig trenches or pour concrete or erect steel bollards. It does no exclude wall surfaces that room part-finished, where one mile is up but nine more are not. Not one more foot method not one more foot.

For the promise to hold true the Biden-Harris administration will must instruct Justice department lawyers to automatically end all court proceedings come condemn land for border walls. They will must cancel all ongoing border wall construction contracts. They will require to instantly halt every border wall surface construction.

Doing so would save thousands of Texas landowners, stave off the devastation the wildlife refuges, and also avoid the flooding of homes and farms follow me the Rio Grande.

But it would not fix the damages done by the wall surfaces that the Trump management has already erected. That will call for the removed of border walls.

The Biden-Harris management should tear down walls that desecrate sites the are spiritual to the Kumeyaay, the O’odham, and also other aboriginal American nations. They have to tear under the wall surfaces that dam the mountain Pedro River, and also the spring-fed streams that the mountain Bernardino nationwide Wildlife Refuge, and that intrude into the floodplain the the Rio Grande. They need to tear down walls that rip apart endangered species habitat. They must tear down wall surfaces that cut through border communities, spreading prison-bar shadows top top a child’s bedroom window.

At the end of the Obama-Biden administration there were 654 mile of border wall. At the finish of the Biden-Harris administration there have to be none.

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Scott Nicol is the coauthor of a pair that reports about border walls, title Death, Damage and also Failure: Past, Present, and Future effects of walls on the U.S.-Mexico Border. The is one Assistant Professor at south Texas college in McAllen, Texas.