The Department of Homeland Security is issuing waivers in order to expedite the construction of a border wall in the San Diego area, the agency announced Tuesday.
Carlos Diaz, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, told The Daily Caller that the waiver is “intended to cover three projects (14 miles of primary fence replacement, secondary fence replacement, and prototype).” These 14 miles will be within the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector and start at the Pacific Ocean and move eastward.
DHS highlighted in a press release that in fiscal year 2016 the Border Patrol “apprehended more than 31,000 illegal aliens and seized 9,167 pounds of marijuana and 1,317 pounds of cocaine in the San Diego Sector.”
The Secretary of Homeland Security is broadly given the authority to wave laws in order to ensure the construction of border barriers under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 “While the waiver eliminates the DHS’s obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, the department remains committed to environmental stewardship and respect to these projects,” the agency said in a statement.
Construction of border wall prototypes was supposed to start in June, but due to complaints by bidders it has been stalled until December 2017. Diaz, however, told TheDC that this doesn’t “impact the schedule for the primary fence replacement. Current construction start for the primary fence replacement is March 13, 2018.”
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. Diaz said that geotechnical studies for the fence replacement will start in August.