Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall to stop illegal immigration along the entire 1,954 miles of the U.S border with Mexico is one of his most popular proposals – especially because he say he’s going to make Mexico pay for it. The wall is so controversial that former Mexican President Vicente Fox publicly declared that Mexico is not going to pay “for that fucking wall.”
One factor in Trump’s favor is that Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed, the REAL ID Act in 2005. Section 102 of the act gave the Secretary of Homeland Security sole discretion to ignore all laws when building border walls. According to this controversial provision, the only way a new border wall can be challenged in court is if it violates the U.S. Constitution.
A lot of arguments are being made for and against building the wall, and most of them are being made by people, like Trump, who have little firsthand knowledge of the situation along the border. But many Americans who live along the border in Arizona and New Mexico have come out against it – despite the fact that undocumented immigrants are causing serious problems for them.
“It doesn’t matter how tall of a wall you put up, they are going to tunnel under it, they are going to torch through it,” said New Mexican Erica Valdez, who has a ranch in the southwestern corner of the state. She was attending a March 10 public meeting about border security in Animas, NM.
In the border town of Nogales in neighboring Arizona many residents showing up at the polls to vote in the state’s March 22 presidential preference election also expressed a negative opinion about the wall.
One longtime Nogales resident told an Arizona Republic newspaper reporter that, “No matter how high, how thick or how good you build a wall, the Mexicans will find a way to come across. I will bet anyone they do.”
Another said a wall, “would be a waste of money. How many billions is it going to cost? That’s money that can go to something else.”
And another agreed that a wall, “is not practical. It costs too much money.”
The best way to control illegal immigration, these people agreed, would be to place more U.S. Border Patrol agents on the border.
On July 31, 2018, the Trump administration said it was waiving 37 environmental laws and regulations to build prototypes of the president’s planned border wall and to replace the existing border infrastructure along a 15-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico boundary near San Diego.
On October 10, 2018, the Trump administration announced it was waiving nearly 30 environmental laws to expedite the construction of additional border wall in Texas.
On December 22, 2018, the federal government began a partial shutdown because Congress refused to send Pres. Trump a budget bill that didn’t contain $5.7 billion to pay for the construction of more Mexican border wall. Trump blamed Democrats for failing to agree to his funding demand, while he ignored his promise to voters that Mexico would pay for the wall.
On January 25, 2019, Pres. Trump conceded defeat and agreed to bill that reopened the federal government without providing more money for him to build his border wall. The temporary agreement was set to expire on February 15.
On February 11, 2019, Conservation CATalyst, a Tucson-based wildlife-preservation group, released videos of a rare ocelot roaming through the mountains of southern Arizona, near the U.S.-Mexico border. Local conservationists warned that Trump’s proposed border wall would create a barrier in wildlife travel corridors that traverse the border.
On February 15, 2019, Pres. Trump signed a budget bill to avoid another government shutdown. It didn’t give him with the $5 billion he wanted to build a border wall, so after signing the bill he declared a national emergency in order to reallocate money from elsewhere in the government to pay for the wall.
On February 18, 2019, a coalition of 16 states sued the Trump administration claiming the president’s use of a national emergency declaration to build the border wall was illegal.
On February 26, 2019, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a resolution to terminate Pres. Trump’s national emergency declaration. The resolution was then sent to the Republican-led Senate.
On March 10, 2019, the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported ranchers along the Arizona border were having doubts about Trump’s border wall.
On March 14, 2019, U.S. Senate voted 59-to-41 to pass the measure already approved by the House to overturn Pres. Trump’s national emergency declaration.
On March 15, 2019, Pres. Trump vetoed the law passed by Congress to overturn his national emergency declaration.
On March 18, 2019, the Pentagon sent Congress a list of almost $12.9 billion in military construction funds that could be raided to build more wall on the U.S.-Mexico border because of Pres. Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.
On March 26, 2019, a the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Service Committee denied a Pentagon “reprogramming action” to divert up to $1 billion to build new fence along the Mexican border.
On April 23, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives filed a federal court motion to prevent the Trump administration with proceeding to build new wall along the Mexican border with funds diverted from the U.S. military.
On May 10, 2019, the Pentagon announced that the Trump administration had diverted another $1.5 billion in Defense Department funds to help build the wall.
On May 11, 2019, the Washington Post reported that donors were questioning the lack of results from the more than $20 million that had been donated to a GoFundMe campaign started by Brian Kolfage to build stretches of the wall on private property.
On May 21, 2019, a federal judge in California was informed that the Trump administration had only erected only 1.7 miles of fencing with the $1.57 billion that Congress appropriated for it in 2018.
On May 24, 2019, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. ordered construction stopped on two stretches of Trump’s wall because he believed that legal challenges to Trump’s diversion of Defense Department money to build them would eventually prevail in court.
On May 30, 2019, a private group announced their plan to build a short stretch of border wall with Mexico near El Paso with more than $20 million raised using the crowdfunding site GoFundMe.
On June 28, 2019, a federal court permanently blocked the Trump administration’s plan to unilaterally divert money from various federal agency budgets to build the wall.
On July 26, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could divert money from the federal military budget to build more wall in the Southwest. The U.S. military has repeatedly warned Congress that these diversions could have dire consequences.
On September 4, 2019, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by filed by environmentalists in March to stop the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from waiving environmental laws in order to build new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In September 2019 environmentalists complained that the enormous amount of groundwater being pumped to build the wall in the Sonoran Desert may dry up Quitobaquito Springs, a famous oasis in the middle of the desert.
On September 27, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure approved by the U.S. Senate on the 25th to prevent Pres. Trump from using a declaration of national emergency as an excuse to divert billions of dollars in military spending to the construction of his border wall. Similar legislation was passed in earlier in the year but Trump vetoed it.
On January 20, 2020, it was reported that the Tohono O’odham Nation renewed its fight against the construction of new a border fence along their ancestral lands in southwestern Arizona, as it would encroach on the tribe’s cultural historical sites.
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