Feb. 18 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued waivers to bypass multiple federal statutes in order to build a long section of border wall between the United States and Mexico.
The department said Tuesday it granted the waivers as a measure to fast-track construction of 177 miles of wall along the Southwest border that will be built in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
“Working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security is exercising its congressionally-granted authority to waive procurement regulations in six high-traffic border sectors, which will allow us to use already vetted and experienced contractors to build an additional 177 miles of new border wall system,” DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift told UPI Tuesday.
Swift said more than 36,000 undocumented migrants and 54,000 pounds of illicit drugs were captured at the U.S.-Mexico border in January alone.
“President Trump is fulfilling his promise to the American people to secure the border and build a high-tech border wall system,” Swift added. “Under the president’s leadership, we are building more wall, faster than ever before.”
The Defense Department last week asked to divert nearly $4 billion from its weapons programs to help build the wall, which Trump has promised since he was a candidate for president.
The Pentagon’s request would shift $2 billion in defense appropriations and $1.6 billion in overseas contingency operations the fund the wall.