Regulations Waived for Border Wall Work
Over a week after a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from using $2.5 billion in funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $33 million contract for four miles of border wall work in Texas. Environmental regulations for that section of structure were also waived.
Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Southwest Valley Constructors was awarded the contract for the work. Funding comes from CBP’s Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriation funding.
Border Wall Saga
Earlier this month, new reinforced panels were being used in border wall work in Calexico, California, along an 11-mile section that is located within the Border Patrol's San Diego sector.
The new panels are to replace 30-foot-tall steel bollards, along with new technology also being implemented at the site. CBP noted that there had been a recent increase in in illegal crossing traffic, and that the changes to the border wall would help strengthen the area against such crossings.
Additionally, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam issued the permanent injunction against the funding late last month, on the heels of a ruling from the previous month that temporarily stopped usage of military funds to build the border wall.
Gilliam’s injunction is related to a lawsuit issued by several groups, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sierra Club. Work is to cease on six sites, excluding work on 79 miles of the border near Tucson, Arizona, and El Centro, California.
The lawsuit challenged the use of the military funds under the national emergency order, but the Trump administration insisted that the use of the funding was legal under the order—this being an “unforeseen” circumstance. If the funding was not awarded to contractors by the end of the fiscal year, the money may also have been lost.
Construction Work, Regulations Waived
According to the CBP, the new border wall system will include four segments, to be located south of Rio Grande City and La Grulla, and will feature 18- to 30-foot-tall steel bollards, as well as road construction, detection technology and lighting installation. Construction is expected to start in November of this year.
The Department of Homeland Security also recently announced that it would be waiving conditions that would require the project to adhere to around 30 environmental and other regulations for the work. Regulations waived include, but are not limited to:
Center for Biological Diversity borderlands campaigner Laiken Jordahl noted that this was the 13th such waiver from the administration in its efforts to speed up construction of border barriers.