It’s not fear of ballistic missiles from North Korea, nor passage of bathroom laws directly impacting the transgender population. It’s not about police brutality or the exit from the Paris Climate Accord. It is about the destruction of a unique habitat–found nowhere else in the world–and it is important. It’s not making headlines, nor inspiring Facebook likes, but if it’s lost, it won’t return; you can’t repeal the destruction of an extraordinary ecosystem.
I’m referring to the Trump administration’s building of the border wall between the United States and Mexico and how those plans are taking shape. In the past months, work has begun–silently and without public input–to destroy many miles and acres of land, both federally owned and privately owned, to build a wall between us and our southern neighbors.
The plans, as best we know them, will involve destruction of some of the most biologically diverse habitat in the United States. It will negatively impact the flyways of hundreds of species of migratory birds, as well as the migration pathway for the threatened Monarch butterfly. This landscape also provides a home for the endangered Ocelot and Jaguarundi, as well as multitudes of species of mammals, insects, and reptiles.
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the National Butterfly Center are in the crosshairs of this controversial wall.
From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, about Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge:
Established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge happens to be positioned along an east-west and north-south juncture of two major migratory routes for many species of birds. It is also at the northern-most point for many species whose range extends south into Central and South America. The refuge is right in the middle of all this biological diversity, which is what makes this 2,088 acre parcel the ‘jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System.’ Though small in size, Santa Ana offers visitors an opportunity to see birds, butterflies and many other species not found anywhere else in the United States beyond deep South Texas.
The good folks at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and those working at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge CANNOT speak on behalf of the biological diversity they are charged with protecting because they are federal employees and subject to dismissal if they speak out about this abomination against the last remaining natural habitat in South Texas.
From the Texas Butterfly Ranch blog: ‘Border wall at National Butterfly Center violates property rights and worse’:
Known as one of the top birding destinations in the world, Santa Ana is being sacrificed precisely because of its federally protected status. Since the U.S. government owns it, they won’t be subjected to pesky lawsuits from private landowners like Marianna Wright and the National Butterfly Center. As another story in the Texas Observer noted in June, a third or more of 320 condemnation suits filed against private landowners to build a wall in 2007 are still unresolved.
Not only is Santa Ana in danger, but the border wall work will also destroy land belonging to the National Butterfly Center, which is privately owned.
From the home page of the National Butterfly Center:
‘Bugs vs. Americans. Bugs lose.’
One short-sighted commentator’s glib response to the situation summarizes part of the ignorance surrounding everything at stake here. This isn’t all about the butterflies.
No permission was requested to enter the property or begin cutting down trees. The center was not notified of any roadwork, nor given the opportunity to review, negotiate or deny the workplan. Same goes for the core sampling of soils on the property, and the surveying and staking of a “clear zone” that will bulldoze 200,000 square feet of habitat for protected species like the Texas Tortoise and Texas Indigo, not to mention about 400 species of birds. The federal government had decided it will do as it pleases with our property, swiftly and secretly, in spite of our property rights and right to due process under the law.
Why should you care?
- If you own property or value your Constitutional right to due process, you should be very concerned about the government doing entering property without permission or due process. Altering it. Destroying it. Coming onto it and killing creatures that live there with reckless indifference. Your home or property could be next.
- If you think the “Border Fence” will stop illegal immigration, you are mistaken. The fence has gates and gaps every mile or so where people can pass through; so the fence is actually a FUNNEL, designed to direct those crossing into our country to areas where Border Patrol agents may more easily monitor and intercept traffic—that is, unless people use ladders or scale the fence on their own, which they do.
- If you pay taxes, you should understand the Border Fence is not a solution to the problem of illegal immigration. It is a waste of tax dollars.
The feds have shelved a variety of environmental and property rights laws in order to build a border wall that most experts believe will do nothing to stop illegal immigration and that many Americans don’t want. Further, the feds are doing this with no public discourse or input. If you don’t care about wildlife, remember that folks from all over the world visit both Santa Ana and the Butterfly Center, and that has a positive and enormous economic impact on this region and that will be permanently lost if these plans go through.
If you want a say in this matter, please download, print, sign and mail this letter to Colonel Paul E. Owens of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division.
If the Trump administration has its way, this unique and valuable habitat will be forever destroyed–at the taxpayers’ expense. As well, this wall will do nothing to protect Americans. Below is more information about what is happening at the border.
From Texas Monthly: ‘Butterflies Versus Border Patrol’:
Mission, Texas was well on its way to establishing itself as the butterfly capital of America. In 2002, the North American Butterfly Association founded the National Butterfly Center on a former onion farm near Mission. The one-hundred-acre nature preserve features one of the largest native plant botanical gardens in the country, including hundreds of host plants that attract butterflies. The town embraced its new attraction. Every fall, during the annual Monarch migration, the center hosts the Texas Butterfly Festival, which draws thousands of butterfly lovers from around the world to South Texas.
“This is a much bigger issue than the National Butterfly Center,” Glassberg told the Observer. “There’s a procedure the government could follow with due process. But they’ve decided — like with so much else — to just ignore the law, trampling on private property rights. The complete disrespect for the legalities of this country is something that ought to concern every American regardless of how they feel about a border wall.”
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville who represents the area of the border including Santa Ana, said he requested a briefing about the wall from Customs and Border Protection officials.
“Clearly, it’s all being done in secret and it’s not transparent at all,” he said. “I can tell you we’re going to fight like hell to stop it.”
“These refuges are national treasures and sacred places, and we have to do everything we can to stop the Trump administration from putting this wall into place,” said Vela, who opposes all border walls in his district, famously telling Trump in an open letter last year: “Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”