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Border wall construction already underway after Trump’s $3.6B Pentagon funding

U.S. Border Patrol Agents at Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach watch over personnel that are reinforcing the border wall with concertina wire. (Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
September 06, 2019

Construction has already begun on new border wall sections, following the Tuesday evening announcement of a $3.6 billion funding measure drawn from Pentagon construction funds.

The Associated Press reported Monday on new construction for a five-mile-long wall project along the Colorado River, closing a popular border crossing point near Yuma, Ariz.

The project is one of 11 new projects provided for by the $3.6 billion dollar funding measure, which are expected to cover for some 175 miles of new wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The Associated Press reporting also identified an ongoing construction project for two miles of barrier along the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Ajo, Ariz. They also reported on construction crews beginning a 46-mile section of wall near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Both projects are reportedly a part of the funding through the Department of Defense.

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper authorized the $3.6 billion in military funding earlier this week, officially diverting funding from 127 military construction projects, approximately half of which are domestic and half are overseas projects. It is not yet known which domestic projects were affected and the Pentagon won’t say until each member of Congress in an affected area is notified.

“These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry,” Esper said in a statement following the decision.

According to Esper, the funding allotment is authorized through “Section 2808” of the U.S. code, detailing construction authority in the event of a declaration of war or national emergency.

Esper said the wall sections may be completed “without regard to any other provision of the law that may impede the expeditious construction of such projects.”

The Department of Defense funding follows a February decision by President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency along the southern border. Along with pulling $3.6 billion from military construction funds, Trump also called for the Pentagon to pull $2.5 billion from military counternarcotics programs and called for the Treasury Department to pull $600 million from an asset forfeiture program.

Environmental activist Isaac Russell said the wall construction cause environmental degradation by harming wildlife and damaging water resources.

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“It’s going to destroy the last untouched section of the Colorado River bed, again, with no appreciable impact to immigration,” Russell told the Associated Press.

Russell, who reportedly lives near the new Yuma construction area, also said the wall was being constructed under “the false auspices of a manufactured emergency” and without a chance for public comment.

Environmental groups have launched several legal cases against new border wall construction projects.

The Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in July overturning a lower court’s May decision to halt the $2.5 billion portion of Pentagon funding.

Around one third of the U.S. southern border has had border walls, fences and other barriers prior to the Trump administration.

Two more federal court cases are in the works to halt border wall projects and the American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to continue suing the Pentagon to stop the wall construction.