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Border Wall Impact on the Environment

The environmental impact of immigration policy goes beyond the discussion of building a wall; from the storied piles of discarded items just before the US-Mexico border; to issues with population density (Pew Research Center reports that 82% of US population growth is attributable to immigration). We've talked about the problems with the proposed wall in the past, as a recap:

  • Historically, border walls don't work. The Migration Policy institute highlights three primary reasons: people will find a way around the heavily guarded areas; smugglers have demonstrated that people and goods can get through formal ports of entry; walls have no impact on individuals who enter the country legally and overstay visas.
  • It is a logistical nightmare. A wall guarding the 2,000 miles of the US-Mexico border, a landscape of desert, mountains, rivers and canyons is a huge undertaking with limited promise for return on the investment.
  • The United States is at a 50-year low of illegal border crossings.

In case you're still on the fence about the border wall--let's turn toward how this would impact the environment (and turn away from my bad jokes). "Environmentalists say [the wall] will continue to cut off the flow of water and wildlife in a changing climate but is little more than political grandstanding that won't keep out people." 

Negative Impact on Animals in Wildlife Refuges: The construction of a wall would further endanger the animals that live on the outskirts and within the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Negative Impact on Migration Patterns: " We're already seeing wildlife migrations blocked with the current walls and fences that have already been built. We have hundreds of these walls that were built without dozens of environmental protections." said Dan Millis, a program manager with the Sierra Club's Borderlands project.

Public Health: "Architects and engineers are required to protect public health, safety and welfare as an ethical priority in their work...Fueling climate change does not help public health, safety and welfare. It actually jeopardizes public health, safety and welfare," said Raphael Sperry, President of the San Francisco-based Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility.

Further Reading

 Read about the  Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge  and the adorable ocelot that lives there. 

Read about the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the adorable ocelot that lives there. 


  1. Contact your representatives and tell them you oppose a border wall. Demand that an Environmental Impact Study be conducted prior to any construction begins (Leslie Knope, style).
  2. Write to the US Department of Fish & Wildlife and urge them to conduct an environmental impact study on the wall. 
  3. Write a letter to Robert Ivy, the executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects. AIA issued a statement saying the organization's members were committed to working with the 45 on crafting a spending plan to strengthen the nation's aging infrastructure. Write to the AIA know that a border wall is a detriment to public health: 

    AIA Headquarters
    421 7th Street NW
    Washington, DC 20004

  4. Submit a design to the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (see this post).
  5. Donate to environmental organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund, or National Resource Defense Council.

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    Updates on 'Wellcare' (AHCA)