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DHS Issues Waiver for Border Wall Project in Texas



The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a waiver, which will ensure expeditious construction of new border wall gates located within Cameron County, Texas. The gate construction project includes the installation of automated border wall gates, associated equipment, and site improvements at current openings in the existing barrier in the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector.

The waiver was published in the Federal Register on September 30, 2019. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), will begin construction as early as September 30, 2019. The contract for this project was awarded to Gideon Contracting, LLC on July 31, 2019.

The geographic scope of this waiver covers the project sites located within the area of responsibility of the McAllen and Weslaco Border Patrol Station’s (BPS) in Hidalgo County, Texas and in the Harlingen BPS within Cameron County, Texas. The gates will be located on the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission levee at existing levee ramps. Once installed, the gates will serve as a persistent impediment to smuggling organizations while still allowing river access for property owners, USBP, other local/state/federal officials, and local emergency responders.

This project is funded by CBP’s Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) appropriation and is not undertaken pursuant to the National Emergency Declaration, 10 U.S.C § 284, 10 U.S.C. § 2808, nor does it draw from any other source of funding, including appropriations available to the Department of Defense (DoD).

Based on language in CBP’s FY19 appropriation, border wall construction will not take place within the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, La Lomita Historical Park, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, or the National Butterfly Center.

This waiver is pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress and covers a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws.  Congress provided the Secretary of Homeland Security with a number of authorities necessary to carry out DHS’s border security mission.  Section 102(a) of IIRIRA provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take such actions as may be necessary to install additional physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the United States border to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States.

In Section 102(b) of IIRIRA, Congress mandated the installation of additional fencing, barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors on the southwest border.  Finally, in Section 102(c) of IIRIRA, Congress granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive all legal requirements that the Secretary, in the Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure the expeditious construction of the barriers and roads authorized by Section 102 of IIRIRA.

While the waiver eliminates DHS’ obligation to comply with various environmental laws with respect to the areas covered in the waiver, DHS remains committed to the protection of the nation’s important natural and cultural resources.  DHS has been, and will continue coordinating and consulting with other federal, state, and local resource agencies and other interested stakeholders to ensure that potential impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic resources are analyzed and minimized, to the greatest extent possible.

RGV is the busiest Sector in the nation and accounts for approximately 40% of the illegal alien apprehensions and, for the FY to date, ranks first in seized cocaine and marijuana along the southwest border.  The majority of its activity is occurring in areas where RGV has limited infrastructure, access and mobility, and technology.

CBP continues to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13767 – also known as Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – taking steps to expeditiously plan, design, and construct a physical wall using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve operational control of the southern border.

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This Former Undocumented Immigrant Is Running For Congress — and She’s All For Trump’s Wall




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A young Republican with almost zero political experience is running for Congress in Michigan — and she’s using her status as a former undocumented immigrant to argue in favor of Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.

“I was brought to America from Taiwan as a 10-year-old girl without knowing a word of English,” Whittney Williams says in a campaign ad, as she aims to unseat a Democrat who flipped the district in last fall’s midterms. “My family overstayed their visas, and as a result, I spent the next 16 years living in the shadows as an illegal immigrant.”

Williams’ stance on immigration may seem unusual given her background: Her family entered the U.S. using tourist visas in 1992 and stayed after their visas expired. Williams managed to obtain citizenship in 2013, four years after getting married.

In an interview with MLive, Williams said she grew up afraid that any minor infraction could lead to her deportation: “If someone knew (about your immigration status), if you told somebody, they could take advantage of you. It’s a constant fear. And you’re constantly told, ‘Oh, you’re an illegal immigrant,’ not, you know, human. That takes a toll on you as you hear that constantly.”

Despite this, Williams, 36, said she supports Trump’s immigration policies and said building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would help “stop the flow” of migrants.

“When you look at a problem, of course, you want to stop it first, so you can resolve what’s in here, because if you keep having this flow … this number here is just going to get bigger and bigger,” she told MLive.

In her campaign ad, Williams claims Democrats don’t care about immigrants like her. “Politicians knew of us: They called us ‘Dreamers,’ and quite frankly, used us as political props for their own personal gain,” she says.

Williams, who currently serves as the director of diversity of the 11th Congressional District Republican Committee, is hoping to unseat Haley Stevens, a Democrat who flipped the district during last year’s midterms.


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Why some say Mexico already built Trump’s wall — and paid for it




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Mexico City (CNN) The commander paces in front of a line of troops, preparing them for the day’s mission.

“We are in our country. We are in Mexico. We are enforcing our laws,” he says, his voice getting louder with each point he makes.
“Nobody is going to come here to trample on our laws,” he continues. “Nobody is going come here to trample on our country, on our land.”
Soon afterward, according to local media reports, military police from Mexico’s National Guard blocked a large group of migrants in Tuzantán, Mexico, who had been trying to head north. The caravan, made up of thousands of migrants largely from Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, was disbanded and sent to an immigrant detention camp in southern Mexico.

Mexico City (CNN)The commander paces in front of a line of troops, preparing them for the day’s mission.

“We are in our country. We are in Mexico. We are enforcing our laws,” he says, his voice getting louder with each point he makes.
“Nobody is going to come here to trample on our laws,” he continues. “Nobody is going come here to trample on our country, on our land.”
Soon afterward, according to local media reports, military police from Mexico’s National Guard blocked a large group of migrants in Tuzantán, Mexico, who had been trying to head north. The caravan, made up of thousands of migrants largely from Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, was disbanded and sent to an immigrant detention camp in southern Mexico.
Members of Mexico's National Guard block a large group of migrants near Tuzantan, Mexico, on October 12.

Trump: ‘Mexico is showing us great respect’

Yes, US taxpayers have been footing the bill for efforts to build new physical barriers at the US-Mexico border.
But experts note that Mexico’s massive deployment of National Guard troops over the past few months has played a major role in blocking migrants from reaching the US border in the first place.
It’s a point Trump himself has made at several recent events — a dramatic change in tone from his sharp criticisms of Mexico earlier this year.
“I would like to thank President López Obrador of Mexico for the great cooperation we are receiving, and for right now putting 27,000 troops on our southern border,” Trump told the United Nations General Assembly last month. “Mexico is showing us great respect, and I respect them in return.”
A few days later, Trump told reporters he was “using Mexico to protect our border” because Democrats weren’t doing enough to fix the immigration system.
And last week, acting US Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan praised Mexico on Twitter, sharing a news story about the October 12 operation to turn back the latest caravan.
“Mexico’s enhanced border security efforts along their southern border continue to have a dramatic impact on this regional crisis,” he wrote. “I just returned from Mexico where we had collaborative discussions on stemming the flow of illegal migration throughout the region.”
Migrants from Africa, Cuba, Haiti, and other Central American countries set out from Tapachula, Mexico, on October 12, hoping eventually to make it to the US-Mexico border.

Not everyone is praising the increased collaboration.
The recent video of the National Guard’s response to the caravan of migrants from Central America and Africa drew backlash on social media.
“We criticize Trump for his anti-immigrant stance and our National Guard is doing exactly the same thing,” tweeted Mexican columnist Denise Dresser, who has criticized the troops’ response to migrants in the past.
In a recent New York Times column — headlined “Mexico is the wall” — Univision anchor Jorge Ramos noted that Trump’s comments that he was “using Mexico” had riled many Mexicans.
“It’s true: President Trump is using Mexico. And, against all logic, Mexico is letting him get away with it,” he wrote. “This has to change.”

Thousands of troops deployed

Asked to respond to claims that Mexico is effectively paying for the wall Trump wanted, foreign ministry spokesman Roberto Velasco told CNN that migration flows have notably decreased in recent months, and that efforts continue for a regional development plan to address the root causes of migration in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“The number of migrants presented before Mexican authorities has decreased by 70% from June to September,” he said.
The decrease, he wrote in a recent letter to the editor published in Mexico’s El Universal newspaper, came as a result of Mexican legislative efforts and a push to strengthen the rule of law in southern Mexico.
As the Trump administration threatened to impose tariffs, Mexican officials in June agreed to step up their country’s immigration enforcement.
López Obrador has said he had no choice but to negotiate.
“We represent our country with dignity, and we have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said in September. “The sovereignty of Mexico is defended. At the same time, we do not want confrontation. We have a frank, open hand extended to all the governments of the world, and we embrace all the peoples of the world, and we are especially interested in a good relationship with the United States.”
Nearly 15,000 troops are deployed to Mexico’s northern border, where they’ve set up 20 checkpoints, Mexican Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said last week at a press briefing on the country’s security strategy. At the southern border, 12,000 troops are deployed and have set up 21 checkpoints.
Military helicopters regularly conduct aerial reconnaissance in both border regions, he said. So far, Cresencio said, more than 60,000 migrants have been intercepted as part of the effort.
A migrant tends to a child while surrounded by members of the National Guard near Tuzantan, Mexico, on October 12.

At the same press conference, officials noted that the number of migrants seeking asylum in Mexico has increased dramatically, with some 80,000 asylum applications expected by the end of this year.
Officials also touted Mexico’s first transatlantic deportation flight last week. A charter flight with more than 300 Indian nationals aboard flew from Toluca, Mexico, to New Delhi, Mexico’s National Migration Institute said Wednesday.

‘The message on the ground’

Analysts told CNN the video of efforts by Mexican authorities to block the recent caravan is a revealing window into how Mexico’s shifting policies are unfolding.
“The message given is that Mexico is not interested in protecting people that are in need,” says Gretchen Kuhner, director of the Institute for Women in Migration, a Mexican advocacy organization. “The message given by this general is not the official message of the government, but it explains very well what the message on the ground is.”
Ana Maria Salazar, a former US deputy assistant defense secretary who’s now a security analyst based in Mexico, says images of the operation illustrate concerns critics had when Mexico’s National Guard was swiftly formed and deployed this year.
“This is someone who was trained to protect the national sovereignty, not someone who handles migrants. And these are the worries in forming a National Guard so hastily,” she said. “You can’t expect that from one day to the next, a soldier that is trained to protect the territory against enemies of the state will now be responsible for people that are trying to cross illegally into the country. These are very different missions and this is reflected in the images and what the commander says.”
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