DHS expedites border wall replacement

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Friday that it two issued waivers to expedite replacement of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and Texas.

DHS said in a statement that it would be replacing about 53 miles of wall near Yuma, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas.

It noted in a separate statement that funding for the 26 miles of wall in Arizona will come from Customs and Border Protection's fiscal 2018 budget and is not related to President Trump's national emergency declaration. The department did not specify where funding for the El Paso project would come from.

The waivers were published Wednesday and construction also began as early as Wednesday in Arizona. One of the two areas covered by the waiver is the area around the Arizona Land Port of Entry.

DHS said in a statement that the project, which would replace "dilapidated and outdated designs," would help it prevent illicit activity.

"The Yuma & El Paso Sectors are areas of high illegal entry and are experiencing large numbers of individuals and narcotics being smuggled into the country illegally," the department said in a statement.

"The construction of border infrastructure within these project areas will support DHS’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations," it added.

The department said the waiver allows it to circumvent certain construction project laws, but that "DHS remains committed to environmental stewardship." It said it will coordinate with federal and state agencies to minimize the project's environmental and cultural impact.

The Hill has reached out to DHS for additional comment.

The department said it continues to implement Trump's executive order and that it is working on building a wall at the southern border.

Trump earlier this year declared a national emergency to divert funds from appropriated elsewhere to border wall construction after Congress did not meet his funding demands.

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