Research Paper: Border Wall a Research Investigation

Pages: 10 (2853 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Animals  ·  Buy This Paper

Border Wall

A Research Investigation of the Environmental Impact of the Border Wall in the LRGV

The problem of illegal immigration from Mexico and Latin America has produced what U.S. lawmakers view as a security risk. One resolution is the Southwest Border Wall, which runs 175 miles parallel to the Rio Grand, separating Texas from Mexico. The research here discusses the DHS-led construction of the Border Wall as it effects the biota in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) region. The objectives of the research are to demonstrate the negative impact on wildlife, landscape and human habitability of the Border Wall. Using a full environmental survey of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the former Sabal Palms Audubon Sanctuary, and the Nature Conservancy's Southmost Preserve, the results denote a connection between the construction of the Border Wall and such negative ecological effects as the decline in wildlife population; the rise in wildlife average age; the decline in variation and quantity of vegetation, the decline in soil, air and water quality; and the reduction in human habitability. The research produces a final recommendation for the institution of an Environmental Security Agency in the DHS charged with balancing security concerns and ecological demands.

Introduction:

The emotionally charged issues of immigration law and border security continue to define life for many living in the border regions of the United States. Many face daily questions which weigh the need for more stringent security, the need for a greater refinement of federal immigration laws and the need to measure both of these ambitions against the needs of those local to the border regions. Within this matrix of sometimes divergent interests, an oft-overlooked consequence of policy orientation is the damage to natural ecology. In the case of our discussion, this damage is likely to be extensive, even catastrophic, where the natural wildlife, natural landscape and human habitability will suffer considerably.

The discussion and research center on the Lower Rio Grande Valley region (LRGV) which encompasses extreme southern Texas and northeastern Tamaulipas, Mexico. Here, the steady influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico and other parts of Central and South America has become a regular part of life, with such immigrants becoming a part of the culture, political scheme and labor orientation of the Valley region. Responding to pressure by anti-immigration activities, conservative lawmakers and constituencies distinguishable by a fair degree for racist sentiment against immigrant populations, the Department of Homeland Security passed the Security Fence Act of 2006, approving the construction of the Southwest Border Fence. (Mattei, 1)

The fence, which began fulltime construction in 2008, flies in the face of local opinion and the claims of environmentalists, conservationists and wildlife advocates. The research conducted here is designed to endorse these claims, which argue that the 175-mile long border fence under construction parallel to the Rio Grande will be damaging to the biota of the region. (Mattei, 1) the specific focus will be on the Lower Rio Grand Valley Region, which is the site of both a vibrant and unique wildlife habitat and a 55-mile stretch of the Border Wall. With each portion of the wall requiring the clearing of a 50-mile radius of land stretching to either side, the ecological impact for wildlife, landscape and human habitability has the capacity to be enormous. (Mattei, 1)

Objective:

The research endeavor is divided into three major objectives, each of which will guide a distinct element of the research process. This denotes that the thesis -- which is that the Border Wall is damaging to the biota of the LGRV -- may be underscored by three distinct ecological effects.

First among these is the impact upon wildlife which is projected by the Border Wall. The first objective, therefore, is to illustrate that the Border Wall constructed in the LRGV will damage animal migration patterns, mating habitats and food chains. This denotes the imperative to demonstrate a direct correlation between the erection of the border wall and the resultant interruption of animal ecosystems. This objective proceeds from the finding that the wall will cut directly through a number of wildlife sanctuaries and conservancies which are crucial protective lands for several species and their ecosystems unique to the Valley region.

Based on the fact that many of these sanctuaries will be forced either to part with significant portions of their land -- now separated by the concrete barrier -- or to simply close their doors altogether. The consequences to the previously fertile lands on the shores of the Rio Grande are likely to be extensive. Accordingly, we find that "federally listed endangered species, including the ocelot and jaguarundi, depend upon riparian habitat along the Rio Grande for their continued survival. Naturally solitary animals, they require large territories in which to hunt, find mates, and disperse after they are weaned. But South Texas has lost roughly 95% of its historic vegetative cover to urban development and agriculture." (Daily KOS, 1) This means that the sanctuaries now being disrupted for the construction of the wall had previously been the last line of defense against extinction for some species. The objective in this regard will be to illustrate that the Border Wall is directly responsible for such critical wildlife consequences such as reducing mating opportunities, eroding lands suitable for feeding and the outright destruction of living habitat.

This alludes to the connection between this and the second objective, which is to demonstrate that the Border Wall will have pointedly negative consequences for the natural landscape. The landscape being comprised of the topography, vegetation, tree growth, soil quality, air quality and water quality, this is perhaps the largest and most general area of objective interest. Essentially, this objective proceeds from the view that a full environmental survey is likely to begin to reveal the extent of the damage produced by the Border Wall to the Valley's biota. Speaking on the connection between wildlife and landscape, our research projects that "habitat fragmentation, in which disconnected "islands" of habitat are separated by large areas cleared of vegetation, split by roads, or divided by other impediments to movement, poses a tremendous threat to these species' long-term survival. Ocelot and jaguarundi trapped within too-small habitat "islands" may not have sufficient prey or access to water, and often show evidence of inbreeding. Today, the Rio Grande Valley is home to the less than 80 ocelots and 40 jaguarundi that are still believed to survive in the United States." (Daily KOS, 1)

This denotes a connection between wildlife viability and the concerns over damage to the landscape. The swathe of land that has been cleared for the construction of the Border Wall is considerable, with much of it comprised of the deeply fertile stretches lining the north shores of the river. The elimination of these stretches has constituted a crisis for an ecosystem specific to the region. Our research contends that "dense groves of sabal palms followed the river up to 80 miles inland, but today the last stands are confined to one tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the former Sabal Palms Audubon Sanctuary, and the Nature Conservancy's Southmost Preserve. All three are now behind the border wall." (Daily KOS, 1) This reflects the imperative for the second, and perhaps the most important, research objective. Namely, the alteration of the landscape is expected to be devastating to the viability of certain vegetation. The research intends to illustrate this.

With respect to the third objective, it is intended through this research to illustrate that the manner in which the landscape has been altered for construction of the Border Wall has diminished human habitability. By damaging certain ecological conditions which have been designed to improve the survivability of those living in the Valley, the Border Wall is likely to have compromised the safety and environmental viability of the farming operations, commercial enterprises and private residences comprising the region's legal population. As our research denotes in light of the construction of the wall, "a huge gap exists between the concrete Border Wall and the south face of the original (now excavated) levee which shows the same evidence of destabilization (loose and friable texture) as the north side discussed previously (lower). After viewing these images, try to visualize how a "flood-control" levee in this destabilized condition might perform if we are impacted by another hurricane this year and areas such Granjeno are subjected to torrential rainfall and the floodway to the south becomes submerged in deep water exhibiting strong currents and eddies." (NBW, 1)

The research will make as a primary objective, the demonstration that there are notable human consequences to the ecological disruption produced by the Border Wall. In this case, it is incumbent upon the research to show that certain environmental features of the Border Wall -- and specifically its erosion of the flood bulwark created by the levees -- will have produced negative consequences where human inhabitance is concerned.

Materials and Methods:

The methodology would be a year long survey of the wildlife, habitat and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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