In the 30 months that President Donald Trump has been in office, the Washington Examiner reported, his administration has not built any new sections of border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, completing only the replacement of dilapidated existing sections.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in a July 11 statement, said that it had completed approximately 50 miles of steel bollard fencing along the border, paid for out of 2017 and 2018 appropriations that were meant to fund both new and replacement wall construction. However, CBP clarified to the Examiner that, thus far, only the replacement projects have been completed. A total of 205 miles of new and replacement barriers have been funded thus far.
Senior administration officials told the Examiner that CBP and the Army Corps of Engineers were able to get started on replacement projects faster than new ones because of the more complicated environmental and zoning approval processes for new projects and also blamed Democrats in Congress for blocking funding for border wall construction.
It's not clear which permits or approvals the senior administration official was referencing in his or her comments to the Examiner, but it is doubtful that the standard environmental regulations that hold up many projects are responsible for any delays in border wall construction since the Deptartment of Homeland Security regularly waives those requirements.
Earlier this month, in fact, DHS waived requirements that it abide by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and a host of other regulations for one of its latest projects, a $33 million contract awarded to Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Southwest Valley Constructors for about four miles of border wall construction in Starr County, Texas. The bollard style fence project, reaching heights of 18 feet to 30 feet, will be split into four segments and will include security features, lighting and ancillary road construction.
If the work performed by CBP contractors thus far does not count as new construction, then the only new barrier that has been erected has been one funded by citizens. We Build the Wall has raised more than $25 million so far to pay for wall construction on private land in Sunland, New Mexico, where the organization has built between a half-mile and a mile of 18-foot-high bollard fence. Contractor Fisher Sand & Gravel said it cost between $6 million and $8 million.