WASHINGTON – Having lost the debate over building a border wall to curtail illegal immigration and protect national security, the Big Media have turned to a new argument against President Trump’s No. 1 campaign issue – a claim that it will cause an “eco-catastrophe.”
For the last six weeks, the Washington Post, New York Times, Science Times, Newsweek, NPR, CBS News and other outlets have begun making the case that the proposed wall along parts of the now heavily trafficked U.S.-Mexico border is not only bad for people, but also for animals – including cats, armadillos, Sonoran Pronghorns and various other reptiles and amphibians.
Environmental activists from the Center for Biological Diversity, with the support of U.S. Rep. Raul Grivalva, D-Ariz., last week filed suit against the government as a means to stop the project, charging it would violate federal law.
Grivalva was quoted by the New York Times as saying: “Trump can fantasize the wall, but at the end of the day, it’s Congress that appropriates the money and analysis to look at the consequences of the wall.”
He and the CBD suit demand Trump’s halt construction of the border wall until the government conducts an environmental impact study to assess the impact on insects, vegetation and “endangered species” such as ocelots, jaguars and other animals.
The lawsuit is the first of many to come, the reports say. Some of them, including the left-wing Vox.com, begun three years ago by reporters from the Washington Post, characterize the threat as an impending “eco-disaster.”
“During the campaign, it was easy to scoff at President Donald Trump’s promise to build a ‘big, beautiful’ concrete wall along the US-Mexico border,” reported Vox.com. “It sounded, well, preposterous. But now the prospect of a border wall is quite real.”
The report said there’s been a running debate as to whether the physical barriers along the border will actually curb the illicit flow of people and drugs, with unnamed migration experts saying the efforts are more symbolic than effective.
“But what is undeniable is that the 654 miles of walls and fences already on the U.S.-Mexico border have made a mess out of the environment there,” that report said.
Apparently, they don’t just want to stop the new building, but tear down the existing barriers – an argument not previously made.
“They’ve cut off, isolated, and reduced populations of some of the rarest and most amazing animals in North America, like the jaguar and ocelot (also known as the dwarf jaguar),” reports Vox.com. “They’ve led to the creation of miles of roads through pristine wilderness areas. They’ve even exacerbated flooding, becoming dams when rivers have overflowed.”
They attribute some of the existing threat to “climate change” and urbanization.
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CBS News, meanwhile, quoted wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin of the show “Animal Planet” as saying: “The impact will be huge. It will be an environmental catastrophe.”
“These animals are hardwired – they’re instinctively driven to follow these natural pathways that these species have been doing for millions of years,” Corwin said.
Between the proposed border wall and Trump’s executive order rolling back Obama-era clean-energy regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency, Corwin told CBS News the administration appears to be “waging an all-out war against wildlife and habitat.”
Newsweek said the wall would “decimate wildlife habitats” and leave “communities on both sides of the border that rely on wildlife tourism to wither.”
Interestingly, the Newsweek report pointed out that that one stretch of the border in Texas is trafficked by 70,000 pedestrians and tens of thousands of vehicles every year, but don’t see that as a threat to the environment. That report also suggests a threat to migratory birds, which should have no trouble flying over the wall.
“The ‘big, beautiful wall’ that President Trump vowed again this week to build along the Mexican border won’t block just humans,” warned the Washington Post. “Dozens of animal species that migrate freely across the international line in search of water, food and mates would be walled off.”
The report called the list of animals threatened by the project “endless.”
Again, the Post report says the current barriers are already a big problem for animals.
“At the border wall, people have found large mammals confounded and not knowing what to do,” Jesse Lasky, an assistant professor of biology at Penn State University, told the Post.
Lasky was among the more emotional sources quoted, saying: “There are concerns about small populations mating with each other and inbreeding, and getting genetic disorders from inbreeding.”
Among the pioneers in this fear reporting was the government-subsidized NPR.
“When you have such beautiful wilderness areas as we have here in Arizona, the idea of putting this large wall that prevents the migration of animals, that scars the earth itself, and especially knowing how ineffectual it is, is something that is just sad,” Juanita Molina, the executive director of Border Action Network, an organization that advocates for the health and wellness of people who live along the border, told NPR. “The reality is that border communities are porous by nature.”
Not surprisingly, NPR also played the “race card” in its reporting, quoting Raul Garcia, who works at the environmental justice law firm Earthjustice, assaying the border wall would primarily affect people of color.
“With Trump’s militarization of the border, he’s specifically targeting immigrants and Latinos trying to make a life for themselves and their families,” Garcia said. “We also see it throughout our country when highways are built and minority communities, like Latinos and blacks, are divided and displaced to make way for the privileged upper class folks on the other side of the city.”
Mark Magana, president of GreenLatinos, told NPR he sees Latinos, especially millennials, becoming more involved in the environmental rights movement. He said many Latinos were raised to be cultural conservationists. “[We] grew up respecting, conserving, reusing, re-purposing, being very respectful for what we have,” he said. “And that is not because I read about it or … I claim to be an environmentalist. It’s because that’s what our grandmother taught us … You know, ‘Don’t turn on the air conditioning. Reuse that piece of aluminum foil … Eat every part of the animal … Find a way to fix that.'”
Countering the one-sided hysteria against the border wall, Ira Mehlman, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, points out the environmental effects of unchecked human traffic, citing the known negative impact of “hundreds of thousands trampling across the flora, leaving tons of garbage and debris along the way. So having that traffic is also damaging to the local ecology.”