More than 100 organizations have joined together to demand a halt on border construction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, the organizations demanded a halt on border construction, citing that the construction puts border communities at risk for the virus.
“Not only is the border wall a waste of resources and a distraction, but now it’s also a public health risk. These lawmakers must put ideology aside, listen to Texans, and halt construction immediately,” said Ed Espinoza, executive director at Progress Texas, in a release publically acknowledging his organization’s participation in the demand.
According to the letter, shortly after President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, his administration also announced plans to continue construction in every border state, with 150 miles slated for California, New Mexico, and Arizona and 15 active sites in Texas.
The letter states that continuing border construction will “strip away precious resources from the federal government that should be used to respond to the crisis and ensure that communities are prepared to stop the spread of the virus.”
There are more than 3,000 cases of COVID-19 are in two southern border states, said the letter.
The letter stresses that many local governments in border communities have issued emergency declarations and banned gatherings of ten or more individuals and that the continued construction is in contrast to emergency laws.
Construction crews and government agents continue to gather, enter local communities and engage in a business-as-usual mindset despite the pandemic, said the letter.
In the border communities, we represent, your agencies’ actions are quite literally endangering the lives of border residents.
According to the letter, the border wall also forces border residents to deal with eminent domain proceedings during a global crisis.
In recent days the government has filed three more motions for takings in South Texas, said the release.
The letter asks how can residents follow stay-at-home orders if they are made to engage in eminent domain negotiations.
According to the letter, as of January 2020, the administration amassed more than $10 billion in border wall funding from defense diversions and in recent months has threatened another $3.6 billion dollars in diversions for construction.
The letter suggests that the army corps of engineers could instead use its resources to fight the pandemic.
You can read the full letter here.