The Trump administration is claiming that the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is going to be a boon for the environment. The head of the Bureau of Land Management claims that the wall – which scientists agree is going to be a disaster for the environment – will prevent fires and reduce trash.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Trump administration declared an “environmental crisis” at the border in order to lay claim to 560 acres of protected public lands. The department is claiming that 70 miles of fencing will reduce the destruction to the environment wrought by those attempting to cross the border.
William Perry Pendley, the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management said that the president has shown “courage” in his dogged determination to build the wall. He claims that when he visited the area and said that it is “overrun by illegals, and people with firearms, people bringing in drugs.”
However, he didn’t share any photos of the so-called environmental crisis, and reports show that border arrests have been dropping over the past few months.
Pendley also said that there have been seven fires in the past year in the Otay wilderness.
“It’s nothing to have a 16,000-acre forest fire, so imagine the destruction if the fire got out of control there,” he said.
The cause of the fires? According to William Rogers, a supervisor for the Border Patrol, says that they are caused, in part, by lost immigrants attempting to cross the border.
“Part of the reason that these fires are getting set is they’re thinking they’re just going to go over the mountain, but it’s really a difficult and arduous trip. They’re having to light fires to get attention. They’re getting lost. They’re getting hurt,” he said.
He added that an increase in border crossings has resulted in more trash in the area.
“I think we’ve definitely seen an uptick in trash just because we’ve had larger congregations of groups coming, transiting through the same areas.”
According to Pendley, the Army Corps is currently in the process of getting bids to build the barrier, which will extend through environmentally sensitive lands, as Gizmodo reports. The administration plans to start building and have the fence up by the end of 2020.
But environmental groups argue that the Interior Department should be protecting the land in the U.S., not building on it.
“The Bureau of Land Management should be safeguarding these spectacular places, not butchering them with bulldozers,” said Laiken Jordahl with the Center for Biological Diversity.
Jordahl argues that a wall through the Otay wilderness won’t stop border crossings, but it will stop the migration of wildlife through the area.