BY MARIO CONDE
Construction of the border wall will begin in Calexico early next year according to a border patrol officer that spoke before the Calexico City Council.
The wall has been a controversial subject during the Presidential campaign last year and has been the main priority for border security for President Donald Trump since he took office. On January 25, 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements. The executive orders called for the physical security of the southern border by taking appropriate steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra challenged the Trump Administration last week over its plan to construct the border wall project in San Diego and Imperial Counties. In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and the California Coastal Commission, Becerra charged that the administration violated the U.S. Constitution, failed to comply with federal and state environmental laws, and relied on a federal statute that does not authorize the proposed projects.
Becerra said the wall project is unlawful since the Department of Homeland Security failed to prepare an environmental impact statement with respect to the border project in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
This is in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The lawsuit stated that to expedite the construction of the border wall, DHS relied on Section 102 of the Illegal Immigrant Responsibility Act that allows the DHS Secretary to waive any law he or she deems necessary to install physical barriers. Attorney General Becerra argued that Section that the Secretary authority to waive laws under Section 102 expired in 2008.
The San Diego City Council passed a resolution against the border enhancement wall, but the City of Calexico has not taken a position either in favor or against the construction of the wall.
Assistant Chief Patrol Agent David Kim gave a presentation to the Calexico City Council on Wednesday, September 20, regarding the construction the border wall that will be built behind Gran Plaza Outlets. Kim told the council that the current fence will be replaced with a hybrid style wall that will be the same size as the current fence. Kim added that fence that the Calexico Arts Council worked to paint and an artistic mural that represents the bi-national culture will be preserved and given to the city.
“We are aware that the fence is a piece of history for the city, and we will make sure that it doesn’t get lost,” Kim said.
Agent Kim said acknowledged that DHS waived some environmental regulations to expedite the building of the fence but told the council that the construction of the wall will be built following environmental regulations. Kim said that the contract will be awarded in November and construction is expected to begin in February or March 2018.