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DHS issues waiver to expedite Texas border wall gate construction project

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security has issued a waiver to ensure the expeditious construction of gates in existing wall structure near the international border in the state of Texas. The waiver was published in the Federal Register Oct. 10, 2018. 

This waiver is issued pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress.  Congress has provided the Secretary of Homeland Security with a number of authorities necessary to carry out DHS’s border security mission.  One of these authorities is found at section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, as amended (“IIRIRA”).  Section 102(a) of IIRIRA provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take such actions as may be necessary to install additional physical walls and roads near the United States border to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States.  In section 102(b) of IIRIRA, Congress has called for the installation of additional fencing, walls, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors on the southwest border.  Finally, 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 Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure the expeditious construction of the walls and roads authorized by section 102 of IIRIRA. The Department exercised the waiver authority in Section 102 (c) of IIRIRA on eight prior occasions.

The geographic scope of this waiver provides for the installation of 11 automated border wall gates and associated site improvements at existing openings in the existing PF225 Bollard Fence alignment in the U.S. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector. The project sites are within the area of responsibility of the Fort Brown, Brownsville, and Harlingen Border Patrol Stations within Cameron County Texas. The gates will be located off the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) Levee at the end or along existing levee ramps. Once installed, the gates will serve as a persistent impediment to illegal entry while still allowing access to the riverside of the gates for the USBP, certain private citizens and other local/state/federal officials, and local emergency responders.

The Rio Grande Valley Sector remains an area of high illegal alien activity.   In fiscal year 2017, the United States Border Patrol apprehended over 137,000 illegal aliens and seized approximately 260,000 pounds of marijuana and approximately 1,192 pounds of cocaine in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. The new segments of wall construction will augment the existing wall infrastructure by closing gaps in the existing border wall.  No wall will be constructed within the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge under this project.  

While the waiver eliminates DHS’ obligation to comply with various laws in carrying out the project, DHS remains committed to environmental stewardship.  DHS has been consulting, and intends to continue doing so, with stakeholders including federal and state resource agencies and affected landowners.  Such consultation facilitates DHS’s assessment of potential impacts and informs its efforts to minimize, to the extent possible, potential impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic resources.  

The Department of Homeland Security continues to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13767 - also known as Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – and continues to take steps to immediately plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border. 

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