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Federal Records: Almost Nobody Asked In Southern Arizona Supports New Border Wall

The Trump administration asked several thousand southern Arizona stakeholders including landowners, other government agencies, tribes and environmental groups about the impacts a border wall would have along the Arizona-Mexico boundary.

The result? People asked are overwhelmingly opposed. 

Last spring, Customs and Border Protection for public comment on about 75 miles of border wall going up in Arizona. It received about  7,000 responses. 6,300 were form letters folks sent in from an environmental group opposed to it. Of the remaining 700, only about 45 supported the idea.

"If I stand in Sasabe, Arizona and look as far as I can to the west, the wall is already built," said Melissa Owen. She and her husband live just three miles north of the border at Sasabe. They didn’t send in comments and they’re not sure they would've been listened to anyway. The border wall started going up here in June ahead of those comments being published. The remaining 650 comments came from people concerned with the wall’s costs, its impact on wildlife and its impact on locals’ ways of life. 

CBP noted in its report that it would address concerns people raised in the comments. It noted that 112 were concerned primarily with environmental laws that were waived. 

We asked CBP for an interview on how it plans to address concerns and whether it'd be able to do so since the wall project is well underway with a projected end date of the end of the year. A CBP spokesman said in an email Thursday that the project did not begin until after the end of the comment period. "In addition, CBP continues to coordinate with stakeholders and received information during the construction process that is used to minimize potential impacts to sensitive resources. All substantive stakeholder comments received were utilized in the evaluation of potential impacts and were used to develop project specific avoidance measures or construction Best Management Practices (BMP).

"An example of stakeholder/public input that has been used by CBP in the recent Tucson sector projects is water flow and flood information related to several water ways that will be encountered by the construction of {sic} barrier. CBP is currently utilizing this data to evaluate the appropriate design of structures that will allow for continued flow of surface waters across the border and minimize the potential for the build-up of debris or backup of water during a 100-year flood event."

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.