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DHS Issues Six Environmental Waivers to Expedite New Border Wall System projects across the Southwest Border

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued six waivers, which will ensure expeditious construction of approximately 177 miles of 30 foot steel bollard fencing, in place of dilapidated and outdated designs and in locations where no barriers currently exist, located within U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso and Del Rio Sectors. These projects will also include road construction, installation of lighting and other detection technology. The waivers were published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2020.

To support DHS’s actions under Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, as amended (IIRIRA), DHS requested that the Department of Defense (DoD), pursuant to its authority under 10 U.S.C. § 284(b)(7), assist with the construction of fences, roads, and lighting within specified locations of the border in order to block drug-smuggling corridors across the international boundary between the United States and Mexico.  The Acting Secretary of Defense determined that the projects covered by these waivers meet the statutory requirements of 10 U.S.C. § 284(b)(7).  As such, these projects will be funded by appropriations available to DoD. DoD, in close coordination with DHS and CBP, will plan and execute these projects in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2020.

Within the Project Areas, DHS is experiencing large numbers of individuals and narcotics being smuggled into the country illegally. The Project Areas are also used by individuals, groups, and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) as drug smuggling corridors. Mexican Cartels remain dominant in these areas, influencing and controlling narcotics and human smuggling operations, within their respective strongholds.

DHS remains committed to protection of the nation’s important natural and cultural resources.  DHS has been, and will continue coordinating and consulting with other federal, state, and local resource agencies and other interested stakeholders to ensure that potential impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic resources are analyzed and minimized, to the greatest extent possible.

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Author: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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