In a move to begin new barrier work along the U.S./Mexico border, the Army Corps of Engineers is slated to receive $1 billion in funding.
That money is coming from the Department of Defense in response to an earlier request from the Department of Homeland Security to “build 57 miles of 18 foot-high pedestrian fencing.”
The funding will also go for both constructing and improving existing roads at the border, as well as “installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso sectors of the border,” said Patrick Shanahan, the Acting Secretary of Defense, in a statement.
All of the work, Shanahan continued, will be done “in support of the February 15 national emergency declaration on the southern border of the United States.”
That national emergency declaration was issued by President Trump who declared “the current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency.”
In so doing, the President said he would push for transferring Department of the Treasure drug forfeiture funds, as well as the Defense Department’s counter-narcotics activities funds, among other sources, in order to pay for new border construction.
The $1 billion funds transfer has been challenged in Congress, and is expected to ultimately end up in court.
Defense Department officials had earlier indicated that moving the money from their counter-narcotics activities efforts, which allows for the construction of a certain amount of lighting and fencing, would not need Congressional approval.
The Department of Defense also thought it could transfer over $3.6 billion from unobligated military construction funds for border construction work.
In making that move, the Defense Department also announced that it would be either delaying or canceling outright funding for new ground transport equipment at the Fort Huachuca army base in Cochise County, Arizona; an information systems facility at the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico; and defense access roads at Fort Bliss in metro El Paso, among other projects.
By Garry Boulard
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