Feds Issue Waiver To Expedite Border Wall Construction

Homeland Security to Bypass Environmental Laws in Border Wall Work

In this instance, the department exercised its waiver authority under Section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

But planned construction near San Diego may further stoke the fire. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began drilling and taking soil samples to determine what particular type of wall would be compatible with specific geographic regions.

Meanwhile, construction of the prototype wall has been delayed until November, due to complaints about the bidding process.

According to a memo published by the Congressional Research Service in January and seen by Reuters, a 2005 law gives Homeland Security broad authority to waive any law that could impede expeditious construction of barriers and roads.

It is likely a sign of how the administration, which has worked swiftly to roll back a slew of environmental regulations, plans to fulfill Trump's pledge for a "great, great wall" on the almost 2,000-mile southern border.

The waiver will allow DHS to implement various border infrastructure projects at a 15-mile segment of the border, which stretches from Imperial Beach on the Pacific coast to one mile east of Border Monument 251, in the outskirts of San Diego and Tijuana.

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The Department of Homeland Security said August 1 it is waiving compliance with 37 federal environmental and conservation laws-including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act-to start building roads and barriers leading up to the southern boundary. "And even the president of Mexico called me - they said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they're not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment".

DHS said in the statement it "remains committed to environmental stewardship with respect to these projects". And they're responding with lawsuits.

Without the waivers, construction would not be able to start on schedule and also litigation under the National Environmental Policy Act could stall the project.

"They want to use the waiver to build a replacement and to expand their interpretation of what already is the broadest waiver in US history to make it perpetual", Brian Segee, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 1. Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the center, says today's waivers are unsafe.

Critics including the Center for Biological Diversity criticized the move as overreach and a threat to the environment.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Monday he had not recently spoken to Donald Trump on the phone, after the U.S. leader boasted his counterpart had called him to praise his border policy. Meantime, DHS has picked some contractors to build border wall prototypes but some who were not picked have filed protests delaying the project. That would pay for 74 miles of physical barriers along the southwest border. But Senate Democrats say they will work to block that funding.

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