Border Wall and Catholic Teaching on Environment

We’ve beaten the immigration-and-wall topic to a pulp, so I’m curious to look at the proposed border wall from a different perspective: The environment.

For Catholics, at least, being responsible stewards of the earth is not optional. Here are some links to Church teaching on the matter. Feel free to reference them in your response:

As it stands, the border wall threatens to exacerbate flooding on the Mexican side, kill land species needing to migrate, kill species on the U.S. side that depend on the water for hydration, endanger species that cut through the region to find mates, cut off a key water supply for bordering ranches, bisect federal wildlife refuges, (including Big Bend National Park, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and the National Butterfly Center), disable the broad transplantation of plants vital to the ecosystem, (certain land animals poop out the seeds!), engender massive erosion of already fragile soil, and prevent the ability of animals to escape from floods and fires. Many of these dangers are delineated here:

Finally, it may be hard to grasp if you’ve never been to this region, but in many areas construction of the wall is simply impossible, at least without ceding thousands of acres over to Mexico, (a wee bit ironic, no?) A lot of portions of the land are extremely ragged canyon lands.

Do you believe the proposed wall is in line with Catholic teaching on care for the earth? Why or why not? Are there more ecologically responsible ways to enact commonsense immigration control?


I oppose the wall mostly for environmental reasons. For me it’s more about the fencing off of some people’s farmland and cutting of migration routes for wildlife. There may be ways around all that but I haven’t seen them yet. I had the same issues with the “fence” (which was essentially the same as the “wall”) when Obama was working on it.


Well you have to balance
(A) effects to earth of having wall
(B) effects to earth of having no wall

You’ve made some arguments on (A), but what about (B)? Clearly if there is no wall many people will come from third world to first world which will massively increase their carbon footprint, thus having massive damage to earth, as compared to the wall being there. Does the increase of all those carbon footprints offset any adverse effects of wall itself? Probably.

Plus are we applying this same “care to earth” standard for all new structures? Or just border wall? And if not, why not?


This has been my opposition to the wall from the beginning. I’m not opposed to a barrier of some kind per say, but I am opposed to a physical one. I think we have the technology to arrive at a much better solution with heat sensors, drones, satellite technology or other new innovations and a physical wall is pointless, dangerous and ineffective.


I don’t think the wall plans are that extensive, the percent increase over current fencing (which has same impacts). We also have fencing across most of the USA as people have carved up their property and grazing areas.

Perhaps some key areas won’t have a wall but I think it’s for the better in high traffic areas, where wild animals really aren’t migrating anyway.

I’ll bet the article you cited exaggerates the facts to put some kind of leftist environmental spin on how bad a wall would be. Any federally funded construction projects of that magnitude need environmental impact studies anyway.


Such impact studies would require public access. Could you please link us to at least one of them?

The border wall is a project of Homeland Security. The REAL I.D. Act exempts this agency from environmental (among numerous other) regulations. So while other structures must conform to federal and state laws for environmental standards, Trump’s wall does not.

Do you have any research showing how mass migration affects the global carbon output?

It’s simply a matter of an already existing population shifting from one space on the globe to another. And frankly, their carbon footprint is quite mild compared to the more affluent people who are already citizens, who often live with three cars, hour-long commutes, dryers running in 90-degree heat, A/C units heating 3000 square feet for 2-3 people, frequent airplane trips, electronics perpetually running, and the whole throwaway culture that keeps the factories pumping.

Remember, we’re talking about a wall, not a fence. The ranches in Texas have fences that look nothing like what Trump is proposing:

Some of these do have ways for water to flow through in the event of a flood, but they don’t address any of the other concerns.

I watched the new documentary, The River and the Wall, (teaser linked below), in which Congressman Will Hurd, a secure-border-promoting Republican whose district covers a large border area, made a compelling point that a wall is effective in urban areas, where border patrol can measure and improve on their response times. But unless you have 2000+ miles of human boots on the ground ready with handcuffs, people can take their sweet time innovating ways to get over the wall, and response time becomes moot in the desolate areas.

Here’s a link to the trailer for the documentary that got me thinking hard on this issue. It isn’t real to those of us who don’t live in the affected area. But examine the scenery carefully, and try to imagine a super tall steel or concrete wall cutting through it.


Yes you just made my point - if their carbon footprint is mild in their home country how does it not harm the earth for them to move here which will increase their carbon footprint?

Apparently for this project, the impact study was waived. Which is probably a good thing because it would have been a massive waste of money…millions of dollars spent for a study that would conclude there is no adverse impacts.

It’s the same left wing usual suspects claiming the border was would be an eco-disaster, when I did a search for it I found the typical colleges, Nat Geo, Vox, NYT shedding tears of how terrible the wall would be for the earth. I don’t believe any of it.


Still not following - Are you arguing that we should keep them poor because their poverty is better for the planet?

The burden of proof would rightfully be on Big Government using taxpayer money for this incredibly costly project. The the current administration has shirked this responsibility is quite telling. But if you choose not to believe the current the research that is available, there’s not much more we can say to further this conversation.


You said it’s “not optional” to be responsible stewards of earth but now saying it is. So the entire OP is rendered moot.

I think you’re grossly misunderstanding me. I don’t know where you got that I’m saying that responsible stewardship is optional. I’m simply trying to clarify your claim that immigration exacerbates global warming. How? And can you provide evidence to back this claim?

1 Like

If you have evidence that someone living in first world makes smaller carbon footprint than in third world, then let’s see it because that would be first page news

You already characterized the carbon footprint of someone in first world due to:

So I’m not sure how that person living in third world would have larger carbon footprint, as you’re suggesting.

The burden of proof rests with the person making the claim.

You are reading the exact opposite message of what I wrote.

First world affluence is directly responsible for global warming. That’s why I don’t understand your claim that poor immigrants and the lack of a wall are causing the problem.

1 Like

Not when the claim is based on well known facts, like people in first world have larger carbon footprint

Your claim that people in first world have smaller carbon footprint is not based on well known facts, thus requires proof.

From your link:

Dude, are you reading my posts? We’re in agreement. At least now.

Earlier, you said the following. I’m just asking you for evidence to support it.

1 Like

Per your own link you have evidentiary burden since you’re contesting a well known fact (that carbon footprint in first world > third world)

No. I. Am. Not.

I. Am. Saying. Exactly. The. Opposite.

LOL, I give up . . .

1 Like

I put all of this in the Chicken Little file next to the alarms raised about global warming. If windmills can pass environmental impact studies there is little reason to expect a wall would fail.

Whether you think the wall is a good idea or a bad one, there is no Catholic teaching on the subject that suggests which. The church may have called us to be stewards of the Earth, but she is utterly silent on what that means with regard to specific proposals.

1 Like

Then why won’t the Trump administration do any impact study?

I started this thread to discuss the matter.

Did you read any of the links I posted?

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit