Biden halted border wall construction. Now what?
Environmental and human rights advocates hope to steer the administration toward a new vision at the border.
Over the last two years, Ron Pulliam, an ecologist from the small southern Arizona town of Patagonia, has watched as the new border wall construction snaked its way along the U.S.-Mexico border. The border wall was a cornerstone of President Donald Trump’s election campaign, and during his term, he built slightly over 450 miles of new wall. Today, over 700 miles of both old and new wall line the nearly 2,000-mile-long border.
When Trump left office, one of the projects still under construction involved dynamiting mountainous terrain in the Coronado National Memorial to build access roads to the wall. “That is a really crazy project,” Pulliam said, having recently witnessed the destruction. “(They are) basically tearing down a mountain inside the memorial, in a place where it’s not going to add to border security at all.”
Now that Joe Biden is president, border wall construction has been halted, fulfilling one of the Democrat’s own campaign promises. Yet his overarching vision for the Borderlands remains vague. A White House fact sheet about Biden’s new immigration bill called for “smart border controls” that employ technology between ports of entry, which could mean surveillance towers and drones, but it is unclear whether he will remove the wall erected by his predecessor.
This story is the final of three installments in a series by High Country News and Arizona Public Media on the status of Donald Trump’s border wall now that his successor, President Joe Biden, has taken the helm. Read part one and part two of the series.