In the early morning hours of Sunday, November 11, a group calling themselves "No Borders! Earth First!" sent a clear message to the El Centro office of Granite Construction Company: Their continued construction of the US-Mexico border wall will not be accepted. The activists hung one banner reading "Save the San Pedro!" on Granite Construction's entrance gate, and another reading "Stop Building a Wall of Death" was unfurled from the company's roof. Activists also wheat-pasted a message to the company to the front door, demanding that they halt construction on seven miles of border wall that will cut through the San Pedro National Conservation Area in the Southern Arizona desert. Locks on the front door and entrance gate were jammed with glue, and the gate was immobilized with epoxy.
The San Pedro Riparian Area is one of the most important riparian areas in the United States and is home to 84 species of mammals, including the federally endangered jaguar, 14 species of fish, 41 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 100 species of breeding birds. It also provides invaluable habitat for 250 species of migrant and wintering birds and contains archaeological sites representing the remains of human occupation from 11,200 years ago. Last month, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, using powers given him by Section 102 of the 2005 Real ID Act, suspended nineteen laws in Arizona that protected the San Pedro region from border construction. The Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife have filed lawsuits to stop the construction, but Granite Construction, with their multi-million-dollar, publically-funded contract, has not halted.
Activists also "replanted" discarded memorials from Holtville Cemetary in front of the building. Holtville Cemetary houses hundreds of unidentified migrant graves for those who have died trying to cross the US-Mexico border. Though people come to Holtville to place flowers, crosses and wreaths to remember those who have died as a result of the militarization of the border, they are removed and discarded on site. A discarded headstone was securely attached to the office's front step.
The wall through San Pedro would extend nearly 30 miles of border barriers near Douglas, Arizona, the nation's busiest corridor for undocumented border crossings. As a result, tens of thousands of migrants would be pushed into longer, more dangerous desert crossings in an area where death is already a major risk. A recent study released by the University of Arizona found that the post-1994 policy of "prevention through deterrence" including building border walls, has increased migrant deaths 20 fold.
No Borders! Earth First! has promised not to let Granite Construction Company forget or overlook the people and the ecosystem they are killing.