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The United States border with Mexico spans about 2,000 miles from California to Texas. This stretch of land is rich in biodiversity, with many plants, insects, and animals making their homes here. Unfortunately, human activity has made this a fragile place to live and there is one looming threat that could make this environment much worse: Donald Trump's wall.
The Republican presidential candidate has made a campaign promise of sealing off this border completely with a large wall, with the intention of preventing illegal immigration. Currently, there are walls and fences blocking around 650 miles of the border. Though Trump's plan has been widely criticized as a political, economic, and logistical nightmare that wouldn't be able to stop immigration anyway, it would also be catastrophic to the environment.
Here are five reasons to care about the damage from a wall on the Mexican border:
1. Wildlife habitats will be fractured.
Believe it or not, animals don't actually care about human political borders. The habitats of many plants and animals span borders based on climate and food availability. For many species, this wall would isolate populations and force them to breed from a smaller genetic pool. Over time, this inbreeding could severely impact many species through diseases or an inability to adapt to the environment.
2. Construction will wipe out the vegetation that the animals eat to survive.
Though the wall itself would be disastrous, the construction process alone would make it hard for animals to survive. As the land is bulldozed and leveled for construction, all of the vegetation along the way would be lost and many animals would not be able to eat, which ends up hurting the entire food chain.
Even if there was a dedicated effort to replant native species after the construction of the wall was complete, the noise and vehicle traffic would make it hard for animals to come back and feel comfortable eating there.
3. Migration paths will be interrupted for endangered species.
Though the wall's intention is to block human migration along the border, it would also block the ability for animals to migrate seasonally for breeding or food availability — a major event in their lives. Even birds such as hawks and eagles that are able to fly over the wall would have trouble making the migration, as the environment on either side would be too highly affected to support them with resources during their journey.
Because there are dozens of animals on the endangered species list who would be negatively affected by the wall, the issue becomes increasingly complicated and will result in long and expensive lawsuits.
4. Scientists will have a harder time protecting species from extinction.
As life gets more difficult for animals, it will also be harder for biologists to try to keep them healthy and save them from extinction. With habitats severed and resources dwindling, they'll have to try to make up for those deficits. Unfortunately, the political ramifications from building the wall will make it more challenging to coordinate with scientists in Mexico in order to share information or even bring animals together to breed and promote genetic diversity.
Caring for the wildlife in this pieced-together way is incredibly expensive and makes their already difficult job even harder.
5. The wall could increase flooding in some areas.
There are many rivers that cross the border and while this wall wouldn't dam them up, a wall in the path of the water runoff during the rainy season would effectively act like a dam, drastically increasing flooding. In addition to being an annoyance, flooding would have a big impact on the ecosystem and cause an incredible amount of damage to buildings in nearby towns.
Thankfully, everyone can help stop this by speaking out.
Regardless of anyone's personal politics, this wall is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea, and it is up to every American citizen to use their voice to prevent it from happening.
Even if Trump is the candidate you're voting for in November, speak out against this dangerous plan to build the wall. Contact your representatives in Congress and tell them not to support any wall that would jeopardize wildlife.
If you have friends or family who are in favor of the wall, speak to them about the realities of it and share this article, proving that the alleged ends are certainly not worth the means.
It has been nearly 30 years since President Ronald Reagan went to Berlin and told the leader of the Soviet Union, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Now we need to come together and make sure this wall never gets built in the first place.
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