The Pentagon announced that well over 200 miles of physical barrier is slated to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border in the coming months.
“We now have on contract sufficient funds to build about 256 miles of barrier,” acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said Wednesday while testing before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. Shanahan noted that current funding is sourced from Treasury forfeiture funds, diverted money from the Pentagon, and other border funds secured by the Department of Homeland Security.
“How you will see this materialize in the next six months is that about 63 additional new miles of wall will come online,” the acting defense secretary added. The rate will equate to roughly half a mile of border wall a day.
President Donald Trump enraged Democrats after declaring a national emergency on the southern border in February, a move that allowed him to allocate billions more for wall construction. After the Pentagon diverted $1 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers in March to build new physical barriers, without first seeking congressional approval, Democratic lawmakers threatened to strip the Defense Department of its budget authority.
The Trump administration argues that the funds are not enough to quell the immigration crisis taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border, which is encountering unprecedented levels of family units and unaccompanied minors. The White House has requested an additional $4.5 in emergency border spending from Congress.
An Arizona construction company’s lawsuit against the Trump administration revealed where wall projects are taking place as of April. Construction projects are underway in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas; Yuma, Arizona; New Mexico and elsewhere.
In total, $7.2 billion for border operations is requested in the Department of Defense’s 2020 fiscal year budget — half of those funds would be spent solely on physical barriers.
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