(TUCSON, AZ) — Today, Rep. Kirkpatrick and Rep. Grijalva (AZ-03) sent a letter to President Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging them to consult and involve border communities in discussions about the future of the border wall. They were joined by Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51), Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49), Rep. Filemon Vela (TX-34), Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52), Rep. Leger Fernández (NM-3) and Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16).
Specifically, the letter outlines four main requests of DHS:
- To develop a meaningful environmental mitigation plan for the borderlands with local stakeholders;
- To immediately cancel all border wall contracts and not initiate any new ones;
- To divert remaining funds to other purposes, including mitigating harms from the wall and removing border wall in places with destructive environmental damage and destruction of sacred sites;
- To rescind the anti-democratic waiver in the Real ID Act of 2005 that former President Trump used to commence wall construction.
“As Members of Congress who represent districts along our country’s southern border, we have witnessed firsthand the devastating impacts of border wall construction on the environment and wildlife, border communities, and Native American sacred sites,” the Representatives wrote in the letter. “As you develop a plan to redirect funding, repurpose contracts, and restore the land damaged by the border wall construction, we urge you to meaningfully consult with border communities that have been impacted by the construction, including tribal members, and stakeholders.”
“When the border wall was planned and then erected, our border communities were never asked to be a part of the conversation,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “Now, the wall is here, and it has brought unspeakable harm to our region. And we want to know that we will have a say in what’s next and that border communities will be brought redress. It’s time to restore public participation in policy decisions along the border.”
“Even though Trump is gone, border wall communities continue experiencing the consequences of his policies,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. “The Biden Administration has the opportunity to end this. It must immediately cancel the contracts and tear down the parts of the wall that have caused the most destruction to the environment, border residents, and sacred sites. The voices and experiences of border residents should be the center of our border policy, not an afterthought.”
For the full text of the letter, click here.