Trump administration will waive 10 federal laws to more quickly construct 177 miles of wall in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas using a bipartisan Bush-era policy

border wall

  • The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it would waive 10 federal laws to increase the speed of construction of President Trump's border wall in several states.
  • The president has issued some 16 waivers using a bipartisan law passed during the George W. Bush administration.
  • While the president has in the past used such power to waive environmental impact rules, the Tuesday move marks the first time the authority has been used to evade federal procurement requirements, according to a report from the Associated Press.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday it would waive 10 federal laws to allow for speedier construction of portions of the border wall in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, according to a report from the Associated Press.

"Today, we're going to start waiving those for procurement-related regulations and laws as well, which allow us to speed up a lot of our contracts that the Army Corps has, anywhere from 30 to 45 to 60 days," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a Tuesday morning appearance on "Fox & Friends."

"We hope that that will accelerate some of the construction that's going along the southwest border," Wolf added, according to the report.

There would be 10 laws waived to allow for faster construction of the border wall, including laws that exist to require open competition, the justification of selections, and receiving all bonding from a contractor before work can commend, the AP report said.

"Working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security is exercising its Congressionally-granted authority to waive procurement regulations in six high-traffic border sectors, which will allow us to use already vetted and experienced contractors to build an additional 177 miles of new border wall system," Heather Swift, a DHS spokesperson, told Business Insider.

The administration said 94 miles of the wall should be constructed with help from the waivers in 2020. The remaining 83 miles could be constructed this year, too, the administration said according to the report.

While the law has been used by secretaries under Trump some 16 times during his first term, the move Tuesday marks the first time that federal procurement rules have been waived to support the construction of new border wall, according to the report.

As Pacific Standard reported last year, the president in July moved to waive environmental regulations (such as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act) to push for the construction of his long-promised border wall.

In waiving such rules, the Department of Homeland Security has cited Bush-era legislation including the Real ID Act of 2005, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, and previous legislation, like the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which have provisions that permit the DHS uses to waive federal laws that impede construction of the barrier along the southern border.

According to the Associated Press, the power to waive such federal rules had been slipped into a series of emergency spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as into the Real ID bill, which required new standards for state ID cards. Notably, one of the laws used to waive the requirements in favor of the border wall construction had passed unanimously in the Senate with support from prominent Democrats including then Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. Sen. Bernie Sanders, then a member of the House, voted against the House version of the legislation.

Those laws have reportedly slowed efforts of advocacy groups - particularly those interested in environmental protection - to fight the president's border wall.

"Separation of powers is at the heart of our democracy and the power of the purse is a critical check on the president," Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, according to The Hill, when the group announced it was joining a February 2019 lawsuit with other environmental protection groups to attempt to stifle construction on the border wall.

"Trump's authoritarian attempt to build his destructive border wall is a flagrant abuse of that constitutional structure," Segee said. "If he gets his way, it'll be a disaster for communities and wildlife along the border, including some of our country's most endangered species."

The border between the US and Mexico has been a cornerstone of President Trump's first term, stemming from his 2016 campaign promise that he would build the wall and have Mexico pay for it. In his FY 2021 budget, unveiled earlier in February, the president requested some $2 billion in federal funding to further construct his wall, though he's not likely to get that much by the time a final budget is produced in collaboration with the Democratic-controlled House.

Read more:

Trump is taking almost $1 billion from Navy shipbuilding projects to build the border wall

Trump plans to take more money from the military to pay for the border wall - here's what could get cut

Border officials are blowing up a sacred Native American burial site to make way for Trump's border wall

Smugglers could illegally enter the US through floodgates left open on Trump's border wall

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