Department of Homeland Security issues waiver to expedite border wall projects in California
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued multiple waivers Wednesday to expedite construction projects along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego and Imperial counties.
The projects include installing roughly 15 miles of bollard-style fencing in El Centro, as well as replacing dilapidated border barriers with bollard fencing along a four-mile stretch in San Diego County and a separate 11- mile stretch in El Centro. The waivers for the projects were entered into the Federal Register Wednesday morning.
The U.S. Department of Defense is funding the first El Centro project, while the San Diego and second El Centro projects will be funded by Customs and Border Protection’s fiscal year 2018 appropriations. The projects are standard border safety improvements that are consistent with DHS’ authority and are not pursuant to President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency along the border, according to DHS.
“The San Diego and El Centro sectors are areas of high illegal entry and are experiencing large numbers of individuals and narcotics being smuggled into the country illegally,” DHS said in a statement. “The construction of border infrastructure within these project areas will support DHS’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations.”
DOD officials will coordinate with DHS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the construction projects along the border. DHS officials expect the construction to begin as soon as Saturday.
The official announcement from DHS.Gov can be read below.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a waiver, which will ensure expeditious construction of approximately 15 miles of new border wall system in place of dilapidated and outdated designs in the state of California within U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego and El Centro Sectors.
The waiver was published in the Federal Register on May 15, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), will begin construction as early as May 18, 2019.
The projects covered by this waiver are funded by CBP’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Appropriation. It is not a project undertaken pursuant to the National Emergency Declaration, 10 U.S.C § 284, 10 U.S.C. § 2808, nor does it draw from any other source of funding, including appropriations available to the Department of Defense (DoD).
This waiver is pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress and covers a variety of environmental, natural resource and land management laws. Congress provided the Secretary of Homeland Security with a number of authorities necessary to carry out DHS’s border security mission. Section 102(a) of IIRIRA provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take such actions as may be necessary to install additional physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the United States border to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States.
In section 102(b) of IIRIRA, Congress mandated the installation of additional fencing, barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors on the southwest border. Finally, in section 102(c) of IIRIRA, Congress granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive all legal requirements that the Secretary, in the Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure the expeditious construction of the barriers and roads authorized by section 102 of IIRIRA.
The geographic scope of this waiver covers the two areas defined below. These projects will total approximately 15 miles of new border wall system located within these areas (approximately 4 miles in the San Diego Sector and approximately 11 miles in the El Centro sector).
- Within the San Diego Sector, starting approximately one mile west of Border Monument 245 and extending east to approximately one mile east of Border Monument 243;
- Within the El Centro Sector, starting approximately one and one-half (1.5) miles west of Border Monument 223 and extending east approximately eight miles; and
- Within the El Centro Sector, starting at Border Monument 221 and extending east to Border Monument 219.
While the waiver eliminates DHS’ obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, DHS remains committed to environmental stewardship. DHS has been coordinating and consulting, and intends to continue doing so, with other federal and state resource agencies to ensure that impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic artifacts are analyzed and minimized, to the greatest extent possible.
The San Diego and El Centro Sectors are areas of high illegal entry and are experiencing large numbers of individuals and narcotics being smuggled into the country illegally. The construction of border infrastructure within these project areas will support DHS’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations.
The Department of Homeland Security continues to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13767 – also known as Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – and continues to take steps to immediately plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.