President Donald Trump‘s border wall with Mexico has long been the subject of fierce controversy. However, a new line of attack hit the proposed plans earlier this week after Raúl M. Grijalva, a Democratic representative from Arizona, slammed the president for beginning construction in Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, per The Washington Post.
The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was one of the ancestral grounds sacred to the Tohono O’odham Nation. Grijalva added that there were many burial sites located in the preserve, specifically around an area called Monument Hill, that might get destroyed during the construction.
“Where they were blasting the other day on Monument Hill is the resting place for primarily Apache warriors that had been involved in battle with the O’odham. And then the O’odham people in a respectful way laid them to rest on Monument Hill,” Grijalva said in a video uploaded to social media.
In addition to the public plea, Grijalva also wrote letter back in January to Chad Wolf, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security.
“Members of the Tohono O’odham Nation recently informed me that the Department of Homeland Security is not respecting tribal lands and sacred sites as they proceed with border wall plans and construction,” he stated, clearly citing his “serious concerns” about the project.
“I strongly urge DHS to conduct meaningful government-to-government consultation with the Tohono O’odham Nation about the DHS’s planned border wall construction,” he added.
However, Grijalva has claimed that there has been no communication between himself — or Tohono O’odham Nation — and the DHS.
In addition to being ancestral land for Native Americans, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is also an internationally recognized biosphere reserve, a designation bestowed by the United Nations. A biosphere reserve contains rare species of plants and animals that the international community hopes to protect.
Laiken Jordahl, who works on border issues at the Center for Biological Diversity, claimed that the construction had “butchered” much of the land.
Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement that emphasized that the blasting was “controlled” and claimed that it would continue intermittently for the rest of the month.
Immigration has been one of the largest issues for President Trump, and some politicos believe that the issue is what helped him win the presidency in 2016. Accordingly, the former New York businessman proposed a new budget this week that increased spending for the wall.
However, Trump’s critics have claimed that the proposal will lead to around $2 trillion in cuts to medicare and food stamps, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.