New internal government memos reveal that President Trump’s efforts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could damage or partially destroy 22 archaeological sites currently supervised by the National Park Service (NPS), according to reporting by The Washington Post.
Plans to expand an existing fence near Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument could harm artifacts from ancient Sonoran Desert peoples, the 123-page internal NPS memo from July stated.
The memo cited previous research that found archaeological sites “likely will be wholly or partially destroyed by forthcoming border fence construction.”
The Hill reports:
Construction has already begun on converting a 5-foot vehicle barrier to the 30-foot-high border wall envisioned by Trump. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has sought to build at a quick pace in order to keep up with Trump’s campaign pledge of completing 500 miles of wall before the 2020 election.
But at risk in the process are a number of well preserved pre-Colombian artifacts left in what used to be a well-traveled trade route that passes along a spring and wetlands that provide important habitat for area species.
“We’ve historically lived in this area from time immemorial,” Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. told the Post. “We feel very strongly that this particular wall will desecrate this area forever. I would compare it to building a wall over your parents’ graveyards. It would have the same effect.”
According to the Post, the Department of Homeland Security has relied on a 2005 law to waive numerous federal requirements that could have been used to slow or stop construction, including those in the Endangered Species Act as well as the Archeological Resources Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.