Trump border wall may damage archeological sites: report

Trump border wall may damage archeological sites: report

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE's efforts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could damage 22 archaeological sites currently supervised by the National Park Service (NPS), according to reporting by The Washington Post.

A 123-page internal NPS memo from July found that expanding an existing fence near Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument could harm artifacts from ancient Sonoran Desert peoples.

It noted previous research that found archaeological sites “likely will be wholly or partially destroyed by forthcoming border fence construction.”

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.

The White House, CBP, and the Department of the Interior, which oversees NPS, did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Hill.

Environmental groups have sued the Trump administration to try to stop construction of the border wall, but those efforts have been unsuccessful.

The bulldozers and excavators that have entered the area risk causing serious destruction as construction crews race to erect the tall steel barriers. Scientists also worry crews risk drying up the spring if its water is tapped for mixing concrete or other construction purposes.

CBP told the Post that only five sites fall within the 60-foot-wide strip of U.S. land involved in the construction. Fencing for the area will be 9 miles long with an 8- to 10-foot deep concrete and steel foundation.

NPS spokesman Jeremy Barnum told the Post the agency’s mission “is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”