Quantcast
Connect with us

Butterflies, the unlikely victims of Trump’s border wall

Published

on

In Mission, Texas, the construction of part of a long-promised wall on the border with Mexico to stem the tide of undocumented migrants is already in progress.

Among the many who will be affected? Butterflies.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mission, located in the lower Rio Grande Valley, is home to the National Butterfly Center, a private non-profit 100-acre (40-hectare) preserve dedicated to conservation of the insects in their natural habitat.

But the wall — a key plank of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy — could end up chopping the area in half, and severely complicate any work being done to save the butterflies that flutter through.

“This land used to be an onion field,” explains Luciano Guerra, who is responsible for education outreach at the center. “We converted it back to native habitat.”

“And when we created the habitat for the butterflies, we also attracted birds because the birds like to eat the butterflies and the caterpillars. Then we attracted things that eat the birds, and so on.”

ADVERTISEMENT

In the end, more than 200 species have been counted here. In spring and autumn, “we can have 80 to 100 species of butterflies here in one day,” Guerra says.

AFP / SUZANNE CORDEIROThis caterpillar will eventually morph into a butterfly at the center

Among those are the easily recognizable monarch, with its black and orange wings; the queen butterfly, native to North and South America; and the bright orange passion butterfly.

Along the banks of the Rio Grande, which forms a natural border with Mexico, there are also bobcats, coyotes, javelinas or skunk pigs, armadillos and Texas turtles.

ADVERTISEMENT

Building a wall here would be “devastating,” the center says on its website.

– Risk of ‘biological desert’ –

Marianna Trevino Wright, the center’s executive director, traveled to Washington to plead her case with lawmakers.

ADVERTISEMENT

The funding for the part of the wall that would run through the nature preserve — unlike the money at the heart of a political showdown in the US capital — was approved last year.

According to the Center, construction of the 33-mile (50-kilometer) stretch of barrier could begin in late February.

Trevino Wright impressed upon lawmakers (mainly Democrats) that the wall project is in violation of multiple environmental protection laws.

ADVERTISEMENT

The wall and the glaring spotlights that would come with it will disrupt the “nocturnal activities of all plants and animals, transforming what is now a vibrant but endangered ecosystem into a biological desert,” she said.

AFP / SUZANNE CORDEIROLuciano Guerra — responsible for education outreach at the National Butterfly Center — says he is a Republican and voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but will not vote for him again in 2020

“People say, ‘Well, the butterflies can fly over it or fly through it or around it.’ “Not necessarily,” explains Guerra.

“Some butterflies fly lower to the ground — they could not go over that 18-foot concrete wall.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Moreover, “when the bulldozers come in to clear the way for the border wall, they’re going to knock down trees, plants, grasses and so on, which are host plants for the butterfly species we have here,” he added.

Those trees also are the home of several species of birds, especially in the spring, and some mammals risk seeing their natural habitat destroyed — or being hit by construction vehicles, Guerra warned.

– Border crisis? –

ADVERTISEMENT

AFP / SUZANNE CORDEIROA sticker saying “No to the wall” in Spanish is seen near a map of the National Butterfly Center, which is actively campaigning against the project

According to what the butterfly center has been told about the plans, the wall will essentially slice the reserve in half.

Will there be some kind of gate allowing personnel to travel back and forth? Unclear.

“They won’t tell us that yet,” Guerra said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The center has filed suit against the federal government, claiming their private property rights are being violated.

“Chances are the lawsuit will not get heard, will not go to court until after the wall has already been built,” Guerra admitted.

He says he is frustrated, and believes that Trump is exaggerating the extent of the crisis on the border.

ADVERTISEMENT

“If there was a crisis, I wouldn’t be living here,” he said matter-of-factly.

In December, Guerra wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post explaining the plight of the butterfly reserve. In the column, he said he had voted for Trump in 2016.

Now, the long-time Republican says he will not cast his ballot for the incumbent in 2020.

ADVERTISEMENT

We’re not in favor of open borders. We do believe our immigration laws should be enforced, but there are other ways of doing it,” Guerra told AFP.

“Walls are old and outdated.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump allies acquiring ‘dirt’ on journalists to take them down during the 2020 election

Published

on

President Donald Trump's war against the media has taken a next step. According to The New York Times, Trump's allies have been compiling information on reporters at CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times to strike back because the president believes they "aggressively investigated" him.

The information was revealed Sunday using information disclosed by associates of conservative Arthur Schwartz, who is spearheading the project. Schwartz is an adviser to Donald Trump Jr. and previously worked with Steve Bannon.

Continue Reading

Facebook

Black MSNBC host schools Joe Walsh on N-word tweets being racist: ‘Hard to put the toothpaste back in’

Published

on

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) is like a lighter version of President Donald Trump, said Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton. But MSNBC host Kendis Gibson couldn't help but ask Walsh about his history of racism.

In an interview after Walsh's announcement, Gibson asked hard questions about Walsh's history of racism. Walsh profusely apologized to former President Barack Obama, who Walsh waged war against during his tenure in the White House. While Wash was not a supporter of the racist birther campaign that Trump perpetuated, Wash does have a history of using racist terms on Twitter.

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

MSNBC analyst explains how a new poll shows voters will turn out to dump Trump

Published

on

A new poll is showing shocking numbers for President Donald Trump this week, according to an MSNBC analyst.

In a Sunday afternoon discussion, conservative commentator Shermichael Singleton explained that he doesn't think Joe Walsh is going to take much out of Trump's delegate count at the Republican convention. He suggested that someone more middle of the road like former Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) would be a better option for to endanger Trump's delegate count.

Democratic strategist Drew Litman agreed, saying that if Walsh was a vice-presidential pick on a third party ticket, there was more of an opportunity to make a difference. He called Walsh just a "lighter" version of Trump.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
HELP US UNCOVER CORRUPTION!
close-link
close-image