A closer look into how Biden’s decision to end border projects has impacted Santa Cruz County

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 10:45 PM MST|Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 10:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - “The only crisis here is the one of the inhumanity, by DHS, the one of the destruction of public lands, tribal and scarred lands,” said Laiken Jordahl, with the Center for Biological Diversity.

New tonight, President Joe Biden fulfilled one of his campaign promises to not ‘build another foot,’ canceling all border projects last week. For many, they’re calling the halt a big win for some who have fought against border wall construction over the last few years.

The more than 400-miles of promised new infrastructure by then-president Donald Trump is now at a standstill. Construction sites near the border are left now empty with panels left untouched, and gravel still in the sun.

Wall or no wall, Deputy Sheriff Mario Morales highly doubts any fence will stop people from crossing. He tells us the infrastructure only pushes people to cross through remote dangerous mountains. The area where he took KOLD News 13 was about 5 to 8 miles west from the Nogales port of entry. “Even with this fence, they’re scaling it by the panels that are about 18 to 19 FT tall, and they’re coming through,” he added.

The push to remote areas could be the reason why the Tucson Sector is not seeing high numbers of people crossing into the United States like other border towns in Texas and in San Diego. “In all reality I saw more inflow of illegal immigrants during the late 2000′s, early 2010 than we’re seeing right now, we’re were busy picking up bodies and detaining them for BP,” he added.

Others like Laiken Jordahl, who has dedicated his time to fighting border construction calls this halt a cause for celebration and a step towards justice. “It has been devastating to watch construction blast through wilderness lands, literally dynamite indigenous sites,” he said.

But emphasizes the damage has been done. “Sections of the border wall have cut through habitat for endangered species, they’ve sliced through migratory routes for animals like jaguars, deer’s, and javelinas that cuts genetic interchange between the U-S and Mexico, for healthy ecosystems we have to have healthy connected ecosystems,” he said.

He and his teams have sent several letters and memos to the Biden Administration. This push makes him feel heard, but there is no doubt, still a lot of work left to do. “To tear down sections of wall in specific ecologically sensitive areas to restore the land,” he added.

As the future of the border wall continues to change over time. One thing holds true for Deputy Morales, more needs to be done beyond immigration reform. “We need some kind of reform. We need to sit down not only with people who are running the country here but from Mexico, and European countries cause we see Asian people coming through here too,” he added.

According to news reports, the administration will use some of the $1.4 billion dollars appropriated for the construction and it will go towards repairing the environmental damage such as flood barriers.

This is expected to happen in Arizona, the Rio Grande Valley, and San Diego.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.