Border wall construction crews in Arizona are seen migrating Organ Pipe and other protected cacti in a video released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A 30-foot bollard wall is replacing a five-mile segment of the border that is now separated only by a vehicle barrier.
The video released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) shows construction crews working in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument carefully digging up cacti that could be in the pathway of the new barrier system under construction near Lukeville, Arizona. The project is replacing a five-mile track of vehicle barriers that are easily crossed by smugglers, according to USACE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials.
The construction crew is divided into two teams, officials stated. One is focused on removing the old vehicle barrier and constructing the new replacement system. The second crew is focused on identifying protected cacti that could be impacted by the project and transplanting them to a new location.
“We are relocating Saguaro, Organ Pipe, ocotillo, Senita, Barrel, and Hedgehog (cacti),” a spokesman for the USACE said in the video. He said crews are also expected to move Agave plants as well.
“There may be misconceptions that we are on a construction site and just not caring for the environment,” the spokesman explained. “This isn’t true. We’re taking great care to take care of the protected species.”
He explained the construction crews transplant the cacti “right in their immediate area in their natural habitat.” He said a certified arborist verifies the location of each transplant to ensure environmental equivalence.
The arborist explained they are carefully moving the plants about ten feet back from their original location to keep them from being harmed during the construction process.
“People think that anything you do is wrong and illegal,” she explained. “The process of getting a permit legitimizes what you are going to do.”
Officials said they are complying with all state and federal environmental laws in the migration of these plants.
The border barrier being replaced consisted primarily of steel posts and cross members designed only to stop vehicles from crossing the international boundary illegally. It is completely ineffective against pedestrian traffic.
In February, Breitbart Texas reported on a group of 325 migrants who smugglers crossed in this region.
The area where the migrant group crossed is protected only by vehicle barriers. There is no physical barrier to pedestrian crossings in this part of the border that is being exploited by human smugglers and large migrant groups from Central America.
The agents found the group huddled around a campfire during the freezing weather conditions of Thursday morning. Leaders of the group admitted they crossed the border illegally after being dropped off by multiple buses on Mexico’s Federal Highway 2 that runs parallel to the U.S. border.
In March, Breitbart Texas reported another incident where nearly 400 migrants who crossed in a similar manner during a 48-hour period.