Homeland Security triggered a waiver Tuesday allowing the department to bypass environmental and other land protection laws in order to begin building and testing President Trump’s new border wall.
The waivers apply to San Diego, where officials already plan to upgrade miles of existing fence, but where they’ll also stage a competition this summer to build and test prototypes for Mr. Trump’s wall.
It’s the first in what’s likely to be a series of waivers that will be needed as wall construction ramps up.
Officials insisted they will still try to be mindful of local impacts as they work on the wall.
“While the waiver eliminates DHS’s obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, the department remains committed to environmental stewardship with respect to these projects,” the department said in a statement.
The Bush administration repeatedly used the waivers during the last major round of fence-building from 2005 to 2008. Waivers at that time granted exceptions to laws ranging from the Endangered Species Act to Native American grave protections laws.
Though Homeland Security announced the move Tuesday morning, the full waiver wasn’t to be available until later in the day.
The waiver comes as Customs and Border Protection, one of Homeland Security’s agencies, is preparing to name finalists to build prototypes of Mr. Trump’s new border wall. Designs will be built in San Diego, then subjected to testing.
Contracting documents said the agency was hoping for designs that could reach 50 feet in height, and could withstand breaching attempts for up to four hours.