The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will prioritize remaining prior year border barrier funding for environmental remediation and mitigation, as well as for installing updates – such as lighting, cameras, and detection technology – in places with previously built barrier.
Homeland Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas approved an amendment to DHS’s Plan for Use of Border Barrier Funds (the Plan) that will allow for additional uses of prior year border barrier system appropriations. The Amendment also sets forth policy guidance as to how to prioritize the use of this funding going forward.
Since the release of the Plan, and through continued assessment, DHS has found significant life, safety, and environmental hazards from incomplete border barrier construction projects under the prior Administration. This Amendment will allow DHS to utilize border barrier system funding from Fiscal Year 2020 to continue to prioritize remediation activities for the border barrier projects previously executed by the Department of Defense. DHS will also continue to work with the Department of Interior and other interagency partners on long-term environmental remediation and mitigation.
Additionally, CBP will use prior year border barrier system funds to complete the installation of border barrier system attributes (lighting, cameras, and detection technology), as previously planned and funded, in locations where physical barrier has already been constructed. This is consistent with the purpose of prior year appropriations from Fiscal Years 2018–2021 as well as the principles of the Plan and will enhance the functionality of previously constructed barrier. This may include installing lighting, cameras, and detection technology, in areas where physical barrier has already been constructed. Barrier system attributes provide operational capabilities like domain awareness for Border Patrol agents and awareness when breaching activity is detected.
As set forth in the Plan Amendment, going forward DHS intends to prioritize the expenditure of previously appropriated barrier system funding on remediation, mitigation, and completing the installation of barrier system attributes. DHS expects that it will continue the environmental planning process that has been initiated for new barrier system in the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Rio Grande Valley Sector, which is funded by the Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 appropriations, while it examines how to allocate available funding in light of the priorities outlined in the Plan Amendment. Additionally, due to higher-than-expected remediation costs, DHS will take action to terminate the environmental planning process that was initiated for new barrier system in the USBP Laredo Sector and funded by the Fiscal Year 2020 funding.
This Plan Amendment supports DHS priorities to deploy modern, effective border security measures along the Southwest Border.