Opinion | Against the Myth of ‘No New Border Walls’ – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Cantú is an author and a former Border Patrol agent.

Credit…Michael Benanav for The New York Times

“TUCSON, Arizona — My earliest childhood memories are of the wind sweeping across the deserts of West Texas, over the rolling hills and stone peaks of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, where my mother worked as a ranger for the National Park Service. Her duties were not just to protect and preserve places of natural beauty but also to interpret their landscape to visitors through stories — stories she would share with me on a daily basis at home, on hikes, in the car, even weaving them into the songs she sang to me at bedtime.

The Guadalupe Mountains, an hour and a half from the Rio Grande, could be considered part of a vast network of borderland parks and wilderness preserves. Because of their proximity to our evermore militarized border, these areas have become one of our country’s most endangered landscapes. The most immediate threat comes, of course, from President Trump’s fixation on expanding the staggering number of barriers that already reach across more than one-third of our nearly 2,000 miles of border shared with Mexico.

While it may be comforting for many to think that the Trump administration has been entirely ineffective in delivering on his most symbolic and most hateful campaign promises, the truth is far more alarming: As you read these words, towering walls of concrete and steel are being constructed across national monuments, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. In all, more than 130 miles of federally protected lands are under threat.

Those who seek to minimize the new construction insist that new walls are only replacing existing ones — mostly four-foot-high vehicle barriers that do little to alter the movement of wildlife or the natural rhythms of the landscape. The 30-foot walls that are taking their place are easily scalable by humans but completely impenetrable by most wild animals. The new construction also poses grave flooding hazards and requires the draining of precious desert groundwater, threatening to permanently reshape entire ecosystems.”