COLUMBUS, New Mexico (Border Report) — Conservationists are claiming a small victory after the removal of a dozen trailers that would’ve housed crews working on a nearby stretch of border wall.
The trailers were hauled off to undisclosed locations after activists, residents and some public officials complained of a heightened risk of COVID-19 spread posed by the influx of dozens of out-of-town workers into Columbus.
“We take this as a win for our community and our families. We have bought some time, but we remain ever vigilant because they could very well move to federal public land and pop up again,” said Angel Peña, president of Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project.
The Las Cruces, New Mexico-based group opposes construction of border wall in Dona Ana and Luna counties on the grounds that it will disrupt the native habitat and impede the movement of wildlife. They also say the wall is a symbol that runs counter to the region’s strong binational heritage.
“Building a border wall in New Mexico to divide our two nations would undermine centuries of shared history between our two countries that brings New Mexicans pride, a sense of identity, and tourism opportunities,” the group said in a letter sent earlier to the Governor’s Office.
Peña said state officials and some of the town’s leaders were instrumental in persuading a federal contractor to relocate the mobile homes.
Columbus Mayor Esequiel Salas on Monday said he didn’t have much detail on what happened.
Residents at one of the town’s two grocery stores said they’d heard some of the trailers had been moved near the Columbus-Palomas port of entry, while others were sent further west to Hidalgo County near the Arizona-New Mexico border.
“They’re gone. That’s all I know,” Salas said, adding he was waiting to talk to the property owner about cleaning up the lot. Mounds of dirt, pieces of wood and some tires could be seen on the property on Monday.
While the workers won’t be setting up camp in Columbus soon, work on the border wall continues. Border Report observed trucks coming in and out of construction area 25 miles east of Columbus, and new stretches of 30-foot-tall steel bollard fence now no more than 15 miles from the town.
Galveston, Texas-based SLS last year started building the wall just west of the Santa Teresa, New Mexico border crossing, about 62 miles east of Columbus under a federal contract amended earlier this month.