President Donald Trump took office with a pledge to build a towering wall on the border with Mexico, a symbol of his determination to halt immigration from countries to the south. President-elect Joe Biden has said he hopes to halt construction of the border wall, but the outgoing administration is rushing to complete as much wall as possible in its last weeks in power, dynamiting through some of the border’s most forbidding terrain, the New York Times reports. The breakneck pace at which construction is continuing all but assures that the wall is here to stay for the foreseeable future. In Arizona, political divisiveness has pitted rancher against rancher and neighbor against neighbor in a state that a Democratic presidential candidate carried for the first time in decades.
The region is emerging as one of the Trump administration’s last centers of wall building as blasting crews tear through the remote Peloncillo Mountains. “Wildlife corridors, the archaeology and history, that’s all being blasted to oblivion or destroyed already,” said Bill McDonald, 68, a fifth-generation cattleman and former Republican who voted for Biden. “Tragedy is the word I use to describe it.” While the president-elect has said he will halt new wall construction, other priorities like ending travel bans, accepting more refugees and easing asylum restrictions are eclipsing calls to tear down portions of the wall that already exist. Customs and Border Protection officials are rushing to meet Trump’s mandate of 450 miles of new wall construction, nearly doubling the rate of construction since the start of the year. The administration had built 402 miles of wall as of Nov. 13. Of that, 25 miles had no barrier before Trump took office. The rest replaced much smaller, dilapidated sections of wall, or sections that had only vehicle barriers, which did not deter migrants crossing on foot.