Biden’s Immigration Promises Bring Disappointment, Negotiations And Accusations

KJZZ (April 26, 2021) by Michel Marizco

There’s arguably no more divisive infrastructure project in the U.S. right now than this border wall I’m standing in the shadow of.

I’m here with Kate Scott of the Madrean Archipelago wildlife center in Arizona’s Cochise County. We’re in the Pajarito Mountains west of Nogales where most of the work stopped on the border shortly after President Joe Biden took office. Border wall contractors left behind a mess in the middle of Coronado National Forest land.

“Road construction done in a way without regard for the land,” Scott says as we stand on the edge of a steep cliff, observing the chaotic junk pile left in the wall construction’s wake.

The dirt road leading up to the border was widened, the remnants of cliffs bulldozed over the side.

Pieces of old vehicle barrier were pushed into canyons. Other heavy, broken pieces were left on ledges and used to form a welded together gate blocking access to the remainder of the border road. Broken and flattened culvert pipe scattered across the grasslands.

“And everywhere that this was done, there has been created what I simply call mine tailings,” Scott said.

Under former President Donald Trump, contractors built more than 20 miles of border wall in this area. The wall is just a part of the project; roads were widened, hills flattened and vegetation destroyed to reach the international border. Gaps in the fence remain. The border wall was being painted up until this year. Now, shiny black coating abuts lengths of rusting border wall.

“So you have this infrastructure leading up to the wall and all along the wall. And it’s at the same level of devastation. This is a tiny little snapshot of one,” Scott said.

Matthew Nelson is head of the Arizona Trail Association. The Trump administration slated the trail’s terminus at the border for a new wall last summer. Nelson says he’s left with largely unknowns when it comes to the trail’s head.

“Will the wall continue to be built? Will it be torn down and rehabilitated? Nobody knows,” he said.

Army Corps of Engineers officials didn’t respond to questions from KJZZ about future plans, either.

“In fact we’re not even really sure who’s discussing this and how this project is going to move forward,” Nelson said.

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