- U.S. Department of Defense officials have estimated that even if President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to fund his U.S.-Mexico border wall survives legal challenges, it will be months before up to $3.6 billion of department funds can be directed away from military construction projects to building new wall segments, CNN reported. The White House could also tap into another $2.5 billion of DOD counternarcotics funds.
- Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has yet to request border wall construction support from the DOD. When it does, the DOD will then begin an assessment process that could take weeks, followed by a months-long implementation period before construction can begin.
- Defense officials also told CNN that while Shanahan will follow the law to determine whether any DHS request represents activities that are in support of the armed forces, as tapping funds under a national emergency declaration requires, there are no concrete guidelines that he must follow when making those decisions.
This past weekend, Shanahan visited a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border with other defense officials, according to a DOD news release. The agency said Shanahan and others wanted "to get a feel for the situation at the Southwest border.” U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents there told defense officials that barriers work and should be part of any border security plan.
“Any place where someone can cross the border and disappear within seconds or minutes,” Shanahan said, "that's where you need barriers."
Shanahan also indicated, according to The Washington Post, that the DOD might be taking on an advisory role in determining what new overall border security measures should be implemented.
If the White House can get clear of the courts, the national emergency declaration would give the administration $8 billion for wall construction, about $6.6 billion more than Congress was willing to allocate in its Feb. 15 spending bill and approximately $2.3 billion more than the $5.7 billion the president originally requested before the federal government shutdown in December.
There has been barrier construction ongoing at the border, but it has consisted of repair, replacement and supplementation of existing fencing. Most recently, Galveston, Texas-based SLS Co. started work in San Diego on the replacement of 14 miles of steel mesh with 30-foot steel bollards. The base contract amount for that portion is $101 million, although there are $30 million of unawarded options. The contract also includes a 15-mile primary wall replacement valued at $68 million that will run through the California cities of Calexico, Tecate and Andrade.