/ Modified jul 24, 2013 7 p.m.

Proposed Barriers Along Border Could Harm Wildlife

The issue has raised flags among environmentalists, who argue it could be devastating to the area's natural surroundings.

An immigration reform bill, recently, passed by the U.S. Senate, suggests spending billions of additional dollars on border security.

Part of that proposal is building more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Such action wouldn't merely impact people; it would impact wildlife as well.

The issue has raised red flags for environmentalist because they feel more barriers would cause devastating harm to the local wildlife.

Jessica Moreno is a wildlife biologist and coordinator for the Wildlife Linkages Program at the Sky Island Alliance. She said the program is dedicated to connecting landscapes and people, hoping to protect wildlife in southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

“Wildlife need to be able to move across the landscape in order to breed, find food, find water," Moreno said. "So, having connected landscapes is very important if you want a healthy ecosystem."

The wall infrastructure along the border is 650 miles. Moreno said it is causing environmental issues.

“The Sky Island Alliance supports immigration reform that is fair and just,” Moreno said. “And, that (includes respecting) communities and our environment as well.”

According to the alliance's web site, connectivity of the land is important for species such as jaguars, ocelots, mountain lions and bears, as well as smaller species, such as amphibians and reptiles.

Ashley Grove is an intern for Arizona Public Media and a journalism student

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