Phoenix – President Donald Trump will celebrate Tuesday in Arizona the construction of 322 kilometers (200 miles) of wall along the southern border, in an area where crews have built tens of kilometers of new fences amid a coronavirus outbreak and protests by opponents who say the construction is destroying important natural habitats.
Trump will be joined by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who was present at Yuma in January to celebrate the construction of 161 kilometers (100 miles) of wall. Wolf said the wall system was "an undeniable impediment to smugglers and other criminals who have taken advantage of our lack of border infrastructure to traffic drugs, illicit products and participate in human trafficking."
It is not yet It is clear which part of the Yuma sector Trump, who is close to the California-Arizona border, will visit, and the Border Patrol declined to provide details on Monday. However, Yuma has been an important venue for Trump's promise to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.
On Monday afternoon, the president tweeted that he will celebrate the "construction of the 212th mile "offering a different number than that provided hours earlier by Department of Homeland Security officials in a press release.
The agency reported that it has completed the construction of 98 kilometers (68 miles) of the border wall and plans to build another 175 kilometers (109 miles) in that rugged wilderness area. Much of the new fence is 9 meters (30 feet) high.
The Trump administration has promised to build a 724-kilometer (450-mile) border wall by the end of the year, helped by relaxed procurement laws that allowed the government will award contracts to construction companies without much review. The government has awarded construction contracts totaling more than $ 6.1 billion since April 2019, according to The Project On Government Oversight, an independent and nonpartisan supervisory body.
Construction has not stopped despite a Coronavirus outbreak that has had severe repercussions in the Yuma area, and amid opposition from environmentalists and Native American peoples.
"Trump's racist border wall has left a scar on our public lands, destroyed cultural sites indigenous peoples and brought wildlife closer to extinction, "said Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the Center for Biological Diversity Fund for Action. "With the country's economy shattered and coronavirus cases on the rise in Arizona, your visit is a cheap campaign rally that only reveals how far removed from reality you are."
The coronavirus pandemic is not holding back plans for more Border barriers elsewhere.
In South Texas, where most of the border land is privately owned, the Justice Department has sued scores of landowners to measure or confiscate their properties for the construction of the wall, including a nun-operated orphanage in Laredo.
Work crews have built several small sections, but they are not close to completing the wall through Laredo or the Rio Grande Valley, the southernmost point of Texas. Almost all of the United States along the Rio Grande, which separates Texas from Mexico, still does not have a wall.
Even without the wall, border crossings have declined dramatically in the Rio Grande Valley since late last year due to a series of policy changes implemented by the Trump government.
On the south side of the Rio Grande, thousands of asylum seekers live in shelters, churches and a refugee camp while awaiting their cases in immigration courts. Others have been expelled to their countries of origin without due process due to an emergency border closure that took effect due to the coronavirus pandemic.