Acting Secretary Says Congress Can’t Stop Her from Building a Border Wall
The Department of Homeland Security is ready to bulldoze any barrier in its way, including any law currently on the books, as it rebuilds a stretch of a three mile-wall between California and Mexico to stop the influx of illegal immigrants. And if this is how the Trump Administration plans to approach the construction of the Big Wall he campaigned on—we’re all going to pay for it.
In a filing that lays out the plans to rebuild what is currently a 14-foot wall on a stretch of land known as the El Centro Sector, Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of DHS, is ready to defy any federal or state law and regulation that stands in the way of hasty reconstruction.
Some of the laws specifically listed in the filing that she claims she can ignore include:
- The National Environmental Policy Act
- The Endangered Species Act
- The Federal Water Pollution Control Act
- The National Historic Preservation Act
- The Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act
- The Safe Water Drinking Act
- The National Fish and Wildlife Act
- The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
And on and on. In fact, there is nothing that will stop Duke and the DHS from doing whatever they see fit to stop “terrorists” from crossing into the stretch of land between El Centro and Calexico, Calif., and Mexicali, Mexico, even at the expense of all else. At the end of the filing, Duke states, “I reserve the authority to make further waivers from time to time as I may determine to be necessary.”
Duke’s free rein is established in a Jan. 25 Trump executive on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, as well as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA).
In addition to rebuilding the landing mat-style fencing that was erected in the 1990s, the new wall, expected to be between 18 and 25 feet tall, and new infrastructure would include additional barriers, roads, lighting, cameras and sensors on the southwest border.
The Border Patrol’s El Centro Sector is a high traffic area for illegal activity, according to the DHS filing. In 2016, the agency apprehended nearly 20,000 undocumented immigrants and seized nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana and close to 130 pounds of cocaine making its way across our border.
The flipside of the argument is the great contribution most undocumented immigrants make to the $2.5 trillion California economy—and the U.S. at large. Illegal immigrants, which make up about 10% of California’s workforce, contribute more than $180 billion per year to the state’s gross domestic product, which is the largest in the U.S. and the sixth largest in the world. Labor from undocumented immigrants is fundamental not just to agriculture, but to child care, restaurants, hotels and construction, according to Public Radio International.
It’s unclear when construction would begin on the Calexico wall or how much it would cost, though it’s estimated to be in the billions.
This is apparently just the first phase in Trump’s grand scheme of erecting a great wall between the U.S. and Mexico—something that hasn’t been approved by Congress and may never happen. But if it does go forward, don’t expect the DHS to adhere to any laws as it stops immigrants from breaking them.
Featured Photo: The existing fence between Calexico and Mexicali.