Because the Tucson 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 Department of Homeland Security has issued two waivers for border wall projects in those areas.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims 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 waivers are expected to “ensure expeditious construction of new bollard wall within the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson and El Centro Sectors in Arizona and California, respectively. The projects covered by the waivers include up to approximately 78 miles of new bollard wall in place of dilapidated and outdated designs, in addition to road construction and improvement and lighting installation.”
The waivers were published in the Federal Register on May 15, 2019.
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) 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.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has determined that the projects covered by these waivers meet statutory requirements. As a result, these projects will be funded by appropriations available to DoD.
According to DHS, the “waivers are pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress and cover 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 1996, Congress mandated the installation of additional fencing, barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors on the southwest border through the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA).
DHS argues that 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.
These projects will total approximately 63 miles of bollard wall within these Tucson Sector areas:
● Starting approximately one-half (.5) mile west of Border Monument 178 and extending east to Border Monument 162;
● Starting at Border Monument 100 and extending east for approximately one (1) mile;
● Starting at Border Monument 98 and extending east to Border Monument 97; and
● Starting approximately one-half (.5) mile west of Border Monument 83 and extending east to Border Monument 74.
These projects will total approximately 15 miles of bollard wall within these El Centro areas:
● Starting at Border Monument 229 and extending east to approximately one and one-half miles (1.5) west of Border Monument 223.