Sep 17, 2019

Trump border wall threatens archaeological sites in Arizona

A sign warns against smuggling in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Lukeville, Arizona. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Unrecorded archaeological sites within Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument could be destroyed by President Trump's border wall construction, according to a newly public National Park Service report obtained by the Washington Post.

The big picture: Customs and Border Patrol plans to finish construction through the Arizona International Biosphere Reserve by January, according to the report. Construction began on Aug. 29. The Trump administration told Axios in August it expects to build 450 miles of wall by the end of 2020 — but was unable to say when it would add its 1st mile of new wall to a border area without pre-existing barriers.

Details: The Trump administration aims to replace all existing vehicle barriers and pedestrian fencing along the monument's southern boundary with a 30 foot tall steel bollard fence, undergirded by an 8–10 foot concrete and steel foundation, according to the report, conducted in June and obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request from the Washington Post.

What they're saying: According to the report, archaeologists with NPS' Intermountain Region Archaeology Program and Southern Arizona Support Office say they "must assume" that all buried and unrecorded archaeological deposits within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument "will be destroyed over the course of ensuing border wall construction."

  • “We feel very strongly that this particular wall will desecrate this area forever. I would compare it to building a wall over your parents’ graveyards," Tohono O’odham Nation chairman Ned Norris Jr. told the Post.
  • The Nation is one of at least a dozen Native American tribes that describe cultural and historical connections to the lands within the Arizona monument.

Go deeper: Trump administration can't say when first section of new wall will be built

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Pentagon halts 3 planned border projects over lack of funding

A Customs and Border Protection helicopter flies over the U.S.-Mexico border wall on April 5 in Mexicali, Mexico. Photo: Luis Boza/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

The Defense Department halted 3 planned "border barrier" construction projects on Sept. 13 after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) determined there were insufficient savings to move forward, per a court filing obtained by Politico this week.

The big picture: The USACE overestimated how much money would be available for these projects after the Pentagon redirected $2.5 billion in July for border wall construction. These projects would have been funded with money "left over" from the $2.5 billion, per Politico.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019

Trump suggested shooting southern border migrants, NYT book excerpt claims

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

An adaptation published Tuesday of the upcoming book "Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration," details President Trump's plans to secure the southern border with snake-filled trenches and shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down.

The big picture: The book by New York Times reporters Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis is based on interviews with more than a dozen anonymous White House and administration officials involved in Trump's attempts to implement immigration policy and fulfill his campaign promises on the issue.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

Donald Trump on the issues, in under 500 words

Trump at a "MAGA" rally in Florida on May 8. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is running for re-election in 2020. He considers former Vice President Joe Biden to be his top rival. In June, he told Vladimir Putin that Russia shouldn't meddle in the next presidential election.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 15, 2019