Border wall construction ramps up during coronavirus pandemic

"The Sierra Club is joining its partners in the borderlands to call for the immediate halt of border wall construction during the coronavirus pandemic.

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In documents obtained by the Sierra Club, hundreds of miles of new border wall projects are set to start in the next few weeks. The Trump administration continues to fund the construction of the border wall between the United States and Mexico amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With the border wall facing legal challenges, the Trump administration has “pulled funds from overseas projects to back fill domestic military construction projects it had previously raided to pay for construction,” according to a Sierra Club press release. According to Reuters, the Trump administration “opened 41 cases in federal court to seize land to build a wall along the southern border of Texas” with 16 of those cases filed in the past two months. Altogether, the administration opened 20 new legal cases to support the construction in March and April.

“These takings are directly affecting people’s homes,” Efrén Olivares, legal director of the Racial and Economic Justice Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project and representative of the landowners along the border wall, said. “These clients live on this land. They want to send contractors to come in and take their homes while we’re supposed to be sheltering in place. It’s unbelievable.”

Also, the Trump administration awarded Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., a division of Fisher Industries of North Dakota, a $569 million contract for contracts for Arizona projects in the middle of April, according to America’s Voice. The construction company, which is said to have close ties to the administration, is also under federal investigation for favoritism, which is prohibited in federal contracting, Reuters reported.

The border wall project is estimated to cost more than $15 billion, according to a Sierra Group press release.

But community groups are pressuring the Trump administration to seize construction and instead, give the border wall funds to COVID-19 response.

“The Sierra Club is joining its partners in the borderlands to call for the immediate halt of border wall construction during the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration is wasting billions of dollars—funds that are desperately needed for immediate relief for American people and to support health-care and frontline workers—to build its wall. Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is also continuing to waive bedrock safeguards like the Clean Air and Water Acts, which puts borderland communities at heightened risk during this pandemic.”

Sierra Club

The new border walls are being constructed in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas.

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