PHOENIX (AP) — Workers’ crews began on Thursday building a small portion of a $664 million border fence project in the Arizona desert that is funded by the president’s national emergency declaration Donald Trump.Teams plan to install 9-meter (30-foot) high steel barriers this week to replace ancient fences along 3.2 kilometers (two miles) at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, near the official border crossing known as Lukeville Port of Entry.
The project is funded with resources from the Department of Defense. Smaller courts froze the use of that money while a lawsuit was being settled, but last month the Federal Supreme Court paved the way for about $2.5 billion to be used. HELP Us Click the Google News star and follow usBuilding a border wall was one of Trump’s top campaign promises. This year, Congress spent about $1.4 billion on the project, but the representative wanted a lot more money. In February he made a national emergency declaration and faced legal challenges to his plans to start almost immediately with the lifting of fences over tens of kilometers. In Arizona, environmentalists filed a lawsuit against some of the construction contracts, on the grounds that the government illegally enacted dozens of laws to be able to build on protected land. They ensure that a wall — and its construction — would damage wildlife habitat. The case is still pending in federal court.” It’s surprising and sad to see Trump’s border wall built through the world’s most spectacular ecosystem, the Sonoran Desert,” said Laiken Jordahl, a member of the Center for Biological Diversity’s borderland campaign.Jordahl said optimism that the courts will intervene to protect the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, where the buildings are currently held. The sprawling park is known for its strangely shaped, organ tube-like cacti, and is also decorated with hundreds of saguaros. Signs can be seen throughout the site warning visitors that they might encounter smuggling activity. Until about five years ago, long areas of the park were closed to the public due to dangerous conditions following the 2002 shooting murder of Kris Eggle, a 28-year-old park ranger who was killed while chasing alleged drug dealers. Construction that began on Thursday concerns a portion of fences stretching west of Lukeville Gate, Border Patrol spokesman Jesus Vasavilbaso reported. Many Arizona residents use that border crossing to head to Puerto Peñasco, a tourist destination in the state of Sonora, Mexico.Throughout the week, crews have removed thickets and the old fence in preparation for the installation of the Bollards. Work is expected to last about 45 days, according to court documents filed last week. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plans to continue two more projects in Arizona, including a stretch of about 64 kilometers (40 miles) in parts of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and flora National Refuge and Fauna Cabeza Prieta, as well as with a minor project in the National Area of Ribereña Conservation of San Pedro. These projects will begin in early October. Projects are coming at a time when the number of migrant detentionhas dropped dramatically over the past two months. High summer temperatures often result in fewer people trying to enter the United States, and Mexican authorities have taken stricter steps to rein in migrants crossing their territory to the border. But there are still people trying their luck in this inhospitable and extremely hot border area, where a 6-year-old Indian girl passed away last June while trying to foot through the desert in the company of her mother, who was unharmed. The girl was found about 27 kilometers (17 miles) west of Lukeville, and was determined to have died of hyperthermia, heatstroke and exhaustion. That particular area on the Arizona-Mexico border has not recorded as much activity as the area around Yuma, the third busiest in the southwest. Most of the tens of thousands of people who have arrived in the United States over the past year are Central American families with children, who surrender to agents rather than try to evade them. Many of them travel in large groups, and the high number of people has exceeded the agency, resulting in slow response times and dangerously overcrowded detention facilities. Five children have been killed in Border Patrol custody since last December. The government has awarded $2.8 billion contracts to erect barriers on 390 kilometers (247 miles) of border. Of that total, only 27 kilometers (17 miles) will be to expand coverage, and the rest will go towards replacing existing fences. There are currently various forms of barriers in a 1,046-kilometer (654-mile) stretch of the southern border with Mexico, about one-third of the total.