On the heels of another awarded contract for steel bollards in Starr County, the Trump administration announced waiving nearly 30 laws Friday.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that it will waive 28 laws to speed border wall construction through two tracts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge — Arroyo Ramirez and Las Ruinas, just outside of Roma.
“…The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security has determined, pursuant to law, that it is necessary to waive certain laws, regulations, and other legal requirements in order to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border in Starr County, Texas,” the filing, which is expected to be published Monday, read.
Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the waiver is the 13th from the administration in its efforts to speed up construction of border walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, and would put endangered species living in the nearly 1,000 acres of refuge tract, in danger. Read the document here.
“The Rio Grande Valley is one of the most spectacular and biodiverse landscapes in the country,” Jordahl said in a prepared statement. “Bulldozing a wildlife refuge to build a border wall will do nothing to stop people or drugs from crossing the border. But it will be a death sentence for wildlife, a flooding hazard for communities and a scar on Texas forever.”
The news of the waivers comes a day after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced a newly awarded border wall contract for Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Southwest Valley Constructors.
The contract, worth more than $33 million, is for 4 miles steel-bollard fencing measuring 18- to 30-feet tall, as well as for enforcement roads, detection technology and lighting installation.
The construction, which is slated to begin in November, is for an area south of Rio Grande City and La Grulla within the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, according to CBP.
That announcement comes a month after CBP awarded a different contract, for 3 miles of bollard fencing in an area located 5 miles north of Salineño, and as many miles west of Escobares. That construction is slated for August.
The Center for Biological Diversity has sued the Trump administration to challenge border wall construction in Hidalgo and Cameron counties, and near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico as well as for the emergency declaration.
Those lawsuits remain pending.