TUCSON — U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva will speak at a rally in Tucson on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m., in downtown Tucson to protest the use of billions of non-congressionally approved funds to build the border wall along 100 miles of Arizona, including Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge.
It will be held at 300 Congress St. at the federal building.
The rally is being organized by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and many conservation organizations and concerned citizens are expected to participate, said Laiken Jordahl, CBD borderlands campaigner.
“Our demand here is simple: Congress must rescind the funds Trump illegally stole to build border walls across Arizona,” he stated. “We’re glad to have Rep. Grijalva flying in to speak at the event, along with representation from a diverse coalition of supporting groups.”
Jordahl and other conservation group members went to a number of the border wall construction sites and documented what they claim to be the destruction of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. They say no regard is given to the protected desert wildlife, contradicting statements by the Trump administration that every effort to protect the cacti for replanting has been taken. Water needs of the fragile environment, which include wetlands and springs, are also ignored as wells are drilled to provide water for cement mixing, the groups say.
Now, ranchers, county and municipal governments from California to Texas are joining the movement of those against the construction and taking of private lands, as are two of Arizona’s elected officials in the House of Representatives.
U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick stated in a press release, “Constituents who live and work near the U.S. – Mexico border have shared alarming accounts about the construction activity currently occurring near the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge (SBNWR) in Cochise County, Arizona.”
In a letter she wrote to the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, she wrote, “I hope this letter can serve as the start of a conversation about environmental preservation throughout this construction project. As you may know, I am not supportive of a border wall or barrier along our southern border. However, I would like to work together to ensure that the construction that is happening is done thoughtfully and with care to protect border communities and the environment.”
Grijalva was pulled into the fray of water woes in Cochise County as chairman of the National Resources Committee. He began an investigation into allegations of “improper political interference” made by the federal government, which allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve a Rule 404 Permit to El Dorado Holdings, LLC, for the Villages at Vigneto development in Benson. The permit was granted after the Department of the Interior pressured a U.S. Fish and Game supervisor to alter his finding that the 70,000 residential, multi-purpose development would impact the San Pedro River and possibly threatened and endangered species.
Attorney Lanney Davis represents El Dorado Holdings, LLC, and has continually asserted, “All surveys have been done and all regulations followed. A 404 water permit to disturb acres of washes was granted by the Army Corps of Engineers, the overseer of the permit.”