BFBC LLC, an affiliate of Barnard Construction Co., broke ground late last week on a 5-mile section of border wall along the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona, the second ongoing border wall replacement project in the area that is being paid for using diverted military funds, according to the Arizona Republic.
The first panels of the 30-foot-high bollard fencing have already been installed under the $141.7 million contract, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
The other recent Arizona project is a 2-mile section in Lukeville that got underway last month. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, asking to use Department of Defense funds to continue wall projects in New Mexico, Arizona and California.
The money for the Yuma project comes from the $2.5 billion that the U.S. Department of Defense redirected toward border wall construction, the Republic reported, and is separate from the $3.6 billion in cancelled military projects that the Pentagon announced last week that it's diverting for border construction.
So far, most border wall projects have been replacements of dilapidated existing sections, not new construction. The issue of whether any new wall segments have yet been built is a politically sensitive topic, one that President Trump is keenly focused on because building a border wall was one of his main campaign promises.
Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted a video showing progress on the Yuma project and said that there would be close to 500 miles of new and replacement fencing along the border by the end of 2020.
Before Trump became president, 654 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border had primary barriers. As of late August, that hadn't increased, according to Politifact, a project of the Poynter Institute, which estimates that to date, the administration has replaced about 60 miles of dilapidated barriers with new fencing.
But drone footage released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection last weekend shows new wall sections going up near San Luis, Arizona, and is being carried out with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“CBP has constructed over 60 miles of new border wall system along the Southwest border since 2017 and expects to complete 450 miles by the end of 2020,” the agency said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that Democratic senators will soon vote on a resolution to void President Trump’s border emergency declaration.
"We all must consider the dangerous precedent this would set if presidents may declare national emergencies every time their initiatives fail in Congress," he said in a statement.