After years of border-wall construction, Arizona activist says its time to restore damaged lands


CORONADO NATIONAL MONUMENT, Arizona (Border Report) — After a year and a half of watching the border wall go up almost on a daily basis in Arizona, Laiken Jordahl says he finally had reason to smile this week.

Jordahl works for the Center for Biological Diversity.

He said he is definitely seeing a pause in construction as crews are putting equipment away and winding down following President Joe Biden’s executive order to halt the border-wall construction along the southern border.

“Feels like change is coming,” Jordahl said. “I can’t help but to feel like we failed to protect some of these places, like Organ Pipe and San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, we fought like hell did everything we could, filed lawsuits, organized protests, lobbied congress, but Trump and his administration were so committed that we couldn’t save everything.”

Laiken Jordahl says he spent more than a year witnessing and documenting border wall construction and its impact on the environment. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

Jordahl says he has witnessed mountains being blown up and carved out as miles and miles of new fencing went up.

“It’s a deep evil irony that Trump always said he was about law and order, yet he waived more than 80 legal policies and laws that protect people and wildlife,” he said.

“It’s a deep evil irony that Trump always said he was about law and order, yet he waived more than 80 legal policies and laws that protect people and wildlife.”

Laiken Jordahl, Center for Biological Diversity

Jordahl is optimistic Biden will stop border wall construction permanently since with the current moratorium expiring in two months.

The Trump administration always maintained the wall was needed for national security as a way to keep illegal drugs and undocumented migrants out of the country.

The Coronado National Memorial has seen a lot of border wall construction. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

Border Patrol agents often say the wall has made their job easier. Something with which Jordahl disagrees.

“Walls have never been the solution, the wall was about Trump winning the election,” said Jordahl, who says attention must now turn to restoration of sensitive lands damaged by the construction.

“It could take hundreds of years to undo what’s happened, but we have to start right away,” he said.

In Part 2 of our special series, Border Report will look into the future of the sections of wall that have already gone up and what it might take to restore the land beneath and around it.

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