The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it will use its authority to bypass environmental laws and other regulations to "ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads" near the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego.
"The sector remains an area of high illegal entry for which there is an immediate need to improve current infrastructure and construct additional border barriers and roads," the agency said in a statement. "To begin to meet the need for additional border infrastructure in this area, DHS will implement various border infrastructure projects."
The waiver, which focuses on 15 miles of contiguous land stretching eastward from the Pacific Ocean, would make it easier for the agency to embark on those "infrastructure projects," which include building several prototypes of the border wall President Trump called for in a January executive action. The agency also plans to replace sections of the fence that stands in the area.
By using the waiver, it would be able to avoid the legal requirement to complete an environmental impact study before building on public lands. In fact, the agency says it has "the authority to waive all legal requirements" the Homeland Security secretary deems necessary "to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States."
And Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan tells NPR's Eric Westervelt this portion of the border could certainly be described as one of those areas.
"Last fiscal year 2016, Customs and Border Patrol apprehended more than 31,000 illegal aliens and seized about 1,300 pounds of cocaine just in the San Diego sector alone," Lapan explains.
Read more at NPR.
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