Yesterday the DCQC met with Sierra Club program organizer Dan Millis who helps facilitate the Borderlands Team in Tucson. Millis reports that more than 650 miles of the U.S./Mexico border already have barriers and the Sierra Club team been fighting the negative effects of those existing walls alongside coalition partners for more than a decade. The Sierra Club leads public tours on the border, give talks about the wall’s environmental and human costs, and educate journalists about border issues. Besides costing millions of dollars per mile to build and maintain – the Department of Homeland Security estimates $21.6 billion for Trump’s wall(s) also don’t address the root causes of complex border problems.
Today, about 14 DCQC members visited a section of the Border Wall near Nogales Arizona along with Dan Millis. We took photos, listened to Tony Sedgwick, President of the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Ranch Foundation talk about growing up on the US-Mexican border and his interactions with the Department of Homeland Security. For many years the Santa Fe Ranch was owned by the Sedgwick family who operated a cattle ranch on land. The following passage is taken from their website and slightly modified by me:
Today, thanks to the generosity and vision of Paula and Cabot Sedgwick, the Santa Fe Ranch is dedicated to advancing agricultural and environmental research and to providing active, hands-on, educational, out-of-doors opportunities to community members. The Santa Fe Ranch Foundation is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the land and its non-renewable resources; to agriculture and its role in our daily lives; and to science, social studies, physical and health education. The Santa Fe Ranch supports a diverse flora and fauna that includes hundreds of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.
There seems to be a hardcore fraction of the population that thinks the only way to secure the border is to build a wall – a physical barrier, Fifth-century technology. These short-sighted individuals would rather spend $25 to 70 billion dollars (or more) of your money and mine on a wall. A wall to secure the border has no advantage and only downsides.
Anyone who really wants to enter the country illegally can go over, under, through, or around the wall. We have all seen the news reports of people doing exactly those things – going over, under, around or through “the wall.” To get over the wall all you really need is a ladder taller than the wall. Outlawing ladders may be difficult at best.
Drones, seismic sensors, and other surveillance technology combined with patrolling vehicles could all be effective ways to reduce the number of people crossing the border illegally. Improving the economies of Middle American countries would also be a way to encourage people to stay at home. Walls are quite literally for people who cannot think outside the box, or in this case over, under, through, or around a two-dimensional wall.
“The Wall” in the Nogales urban area has already caused flooding problems. Away from urban areas it reduced the ability of wildlife to migrate across the border, fragmenting the habitat, and simply block wildlife from long used traditional wildlife corridors.
The Tohono O’odham Nation’s 30,000 tribal members live on the second largest reservation in the United States, which includes 75 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. The existing fences have already divided O’odham families. The barrier already there makes it difficult for those seeking medical services, visiting relatives, keeping ceremonial traditions, and commuting for basic life necessities.
The experience suggests to us that the place the border needs to be fixed most is in the heads of the hardcore fraction of the population that thinks the only way to secure the border is to build a wall.