PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - This week's federal appeals court ruling means one major obstacle is out of the way of President Donald Trump's main campaign promise: to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. But it's not yet a "done deal," and not everyone will come out ahead when the dust settles.
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Trump is one step closer to delivering on his promise of building the wall, even though there is no indication Mexico will pay for it. There are still court challenges ahead, namely from private landowners in Texas who don't want to sell their land to the federal government.
But the president may now be able to spend some of the $3.6 billion his administration diverted from the military to fund wall construction.
North Dakota-based Fisher Sand & Gravel may now be able to start on its contract to build 31 miles of new barrier in southwestern Arizona. The company has a sizable presence in the Phoenix area, and its border wall work is worth a reported $400 million.
The company had filed a complaint about the bidding process against the administration, but that complaint went away after Fisher was awarded the recent bid. Now the inspector general of the Department of Defense is investigating Fisher's winning bid. Trump, himself, had urged the Department of Defense to choose Fisher.
The Environment Protection Agency fined Fisher Sand and Gravel $150,000 in 2013 for "failing to comply with dust mitigation regulations at three of its Maricopa County facilities." Also, the owner of the company pleaded guilty to nine counts of tax fraud in 2009.
Fisher officials did not return an email asking for comment on Thursday about when construction may begin on the Arizona section of the wall.
The $3.6 billion in military dollars has to come from somewhere, and some of it is coming from Arizona. About $30 million was supposed to go to Fort Huachuca for a major construction project. That project is now on hold.
According to environmentalists, the wall projects that have already begun are wreaking havoc on the desert's fragile ecosystem. "Quite frankly, it's enraging," said Laiken Jordahl, who has chronicled wall construction in Arizona's Organ Pipe National Monument and San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge for the Center for Biological Diversity. "It's mystifying to see walls being built through wildlife refuges, through wilderness areas."
"We're seeing thousands of cactuses being bowled out of the ground," he continued. "This is a park that was designated to protect the organ pipe cactus."
He questions the need for a wall in some areas. "In the San Bernardino refuge, Border Patrol has confirmed that they've only documented three people crossing the border in this refuge in the last three years."