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Border wall building under Trump caused 'significant damage,' federal auditors say

By Michel Marizco
Published: Thursday, September 7, 2023 - 12:17pm
Updated: Thursday, September 7, 2023 - 1:09pm

President Donald J. Trump meets U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scot
Shealah Craighead/White House
President Donald Trump meets U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott as he walks along the completed 200th mile of new border wall June 23, 2020, along the U.S.-Mexico border near Yuma.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found that the border wall projects under former President Donald Trump caused significant damage in Arizona and along the border with Mexico. 

During Donald Trump’s presidency, Homeland Security and the Department of Defense built 458 miles of new border wall barriers, mostly replacing older border walls to do so, the GAO found. 

The auditors found that the border wall construction caused significant damage to cultural resources such as Quitobaquito Springs in southern Arizona where contractors destroyed a Tohono O’odham burial site. 

Builders also stripped natural vegetation, eroded slopes, and ruined springs. 

The aftermath of border wall building under President Joe Biden didn’t escape scrutiny. Auditors found that Customs and the Department of the Interior have removed loose rebar in some areas but need to work together to develop a plan to effectively clean up the mess left behind in places like southern Arizona.