The Department of the Interior is temporarily surrendering roughly 560 acres of land that sits on the U.S.-Mexico border in order for the government to build more border wall.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced Wednesday that his department will transfer jurisdiction of approximately 560 acres of land to the Army for three years. The Army will build about 70 miles of new barrier along the U.S. southern border on that land.
“I’ve personally visited the sites that we are transferring to the Army, and there is no question that we have a crisis at our southern border. Absent this action, national security and natural resource values will be lost,” Bernhardt said in a statement. “The impacts of this crisis are vast and must be aggressively addressed with extraordinary measures.’
The interior secretary said border construction is intended to help protect local wildlife from the environmental degradation that accompanies constant foot travel by illegal immigrants.
“The damages to natural resource values are a byproduct of the serious national security, drug enforcement, and other immigration challenges facing our dedicated staff along the border. Construction of border barriers will help us maintain the character of the lands and resources under our care and fulfill our mission to protect them,” Bernhardt added.
The transfer of land follows President Donald Trump’s emergency border declaration in February. The Pentagon announced in September it would allocate $3.6 billion in Department of Defense funding to go toward 11 different border projects at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Border wall construction will take place at five different locations across New Mexico, Arizona and California. The projects will consist of replacing vehicle walls with pedestrian walls, the construction of new primary and secondary pedestrian walls, and the construction of new primary bollard fencing.
More specifically, projects will take place in Luna and Hidalgo Counties in New Mexico, Yuma County in Arizona, and San Diego County in California.
“This work will provide the necessary tools to enhance the safety of those that live, work and recreate in this region,” Casey Hammond, the acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management, said in a Wednesday statement. “Through this collaboration we will maximize safety and stewardship, benefitting all Americans in response to this crisis.”
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