The fishing expedition of the impeachment hearings took center stage over the last few weeks, so a lot of other important issues were ignored or put on the back burner. While Americans propped toothpicks under their eyelids to keep their eyes open to watch the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee twist and turn witness testimonies, work was going on in the background. For instance, construction of the border wall. President Donald Trump has given his son-in-law, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, the task of making that part of his campaign promise a reality, and Kushner is moving full speed ahead.
Not everyone is enthused with the new manager. Kushner is turning up the heat on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed up the process. A big obstacle in the plans is obtaining private land along the U.S.-Mexico border needed to build the Wall. Apparently, more than 800 filings to seize property where the newer portions of the Wall will be built still need to happen.
Kushner is striving to complete 450 miles of border barrier before the 2020 election. Not an easy task, especially with his other duties, which include working on a Middle East peace deal, pushing trade policies, helping Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, and overhauling the criminal justice system and legal immigration. Still, the president’s son-in-law reportedly holds biweekly meetings to stay on top of the Wall’s progress and oversee the use of funds.
Where We Stand on the Wall
Depending on which side of the Swamp you talk to, Wall construction is slow but steady. Protesters, however, claim that the Trump administration isn’t advancing much. The majority of the work has been replacing degraded sections, about 83 miles so far. But another 66 miles of fencing, including nine miles of new secondary fencing, have been upgraded.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement it has issued a waiver that:
“will ensure expeditious construction of approximately 65 miles of new border wall system within the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector located in Starr, Hidalgo and Cameron Counties in Texas. These new miles are in addition to the 76 miles of new border wall system already constructed in the San Diego, El Centro, Yuma and El Paso Sectors.”
The waiver was published on Oct. 31 in the Federal Register, and construction will begin in early 2020, as long as the real estate is available.
This is an important area to firm up border control. The Rio Grande Valley is the busiest sector in the nation, and the stress on the CBP has reached crisis levels. According to the CBP:
“RGV is the busiest Sector in the nation and accounts for approximately 40% of illegal alien apprehensions and, for Fiscal Year 2019, ranked first in seized cocaine and marijuana along the southwest border. The majority of its activity is occurring in areas where RGV has limited border wall, access and mobility, and technology. These projects will be located in areas where no barriers currently exist and will significantly improve the RGV Sector’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations.”
Despite the distraction of the impeachment proceedings, the project to beef up our security and protect our citizens is still going strong. Kushner has his hands full, that’s for sure, but at least the CBP confirms continued progress.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.