WASHINGTON, D.C. — “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas pursuant to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).”
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf determined activity in the Tucson Sector of the border with Mexico requires the continuation of construction of the Trump administration’s wall across Pima and Cochise counties.
The measure was listed in the Federal Registry on Monday.
Wolf stated, “In order to ensure the expeditious construction of the barriers and roads in the project areas, I have determined that it is necessary that I exercise the authority that is vested in me by the IIRIRA.”
President Donald Trump lifted all laws and regulations of environmental ecosystems in the path of the wall which allowed construction companies to avoid biological surveys to identify threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, as well as possible cultural and archeological sites. In Arizona, 41 separate laws have been waived, including the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, Archeological Resources Protection Act, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act, the Antiquities Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the Wilderness Act.
“In order to achieve that end, the president directed, among other things, that I take immediate steps to prevent all unlawful entries into the United States, including the immediate construction of physical infrastructure to prevent illegal entry,” stated Wolf.
Though environmental groups, including the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Defenders of Wildlife, Southern Border Communities Coalition and Tucson Audubon Society, American Civil Liberties Union and even the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission fought a drawn-out battle with the federal government, their legal actions have been fruitless in the courts.
The statement in the National Registry allows the construction to continue.
Wolf says the U.S. Border Patrol (BP) apprehended over 63,000 illegal immigrants in the Tucson Sector in 2019 which stretches across Cochise, Santa Cruz and Pima counties and called it “an area of high illegal entry.”
According to Wolf, the Tucson sector “has been identified as a high-intensity drug trafficking area by the Office of National Drug Control. In 2019, there were over 1,200 drug-related events in which BP agents seized over 59,000 pounds of marijuana, over 150 pounds of cocaine, over 155 pounds of heroin, over 2,700 pounds of methamphetamine, and over 12 pounds of fentanyl.
“Due to the high levels of illegal entry of people and drugs within the Tucson Sector, I must use my authority to install additional physical barriers and roads in the Tucson Sector. Therefore, DHS will take immediate action to construct new primary and secondary fencing and replace existing pedestrian and secondary fencing in the Tucson Sector.”
The work includes building roads to access the remote areas in the Arizona desert for the heavy truck traffic, and lighting will be added to the wall for a higher level of security, he noted.
The renewed construction efforts will take the wall across Cochise County including the San Pedro River crossing within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA).
The Federal Register is the daily journal of the federal government published every business day by the National Archives and Records Administration Office of the Federal Register. It contains federal agency regulations, proposed rules and notices of interest to the public and executive orders.