The Department of Defense confirmed Wednesday it will divert $3.6 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the signature project of President Donald Trump.
According to DOD officials funding for 127 projects will be diverted for use on the wall. Funds will land in San Diego and El Centro as well as Yuma, Arizona, and Laredo and El Paso, Texas.
DOD projects that lost funding include elementary and middle schools and storage facilities for hazardous waste.
The border construction will span roughly 175 miles and include the fortification of existing barriers and fencing, DOD officials said. Construction is expected to start on federal land within four months.
DOD officials said the funds will be dispensed in two $1.8 billion portions.
Officials also said they informed federal lawmakers and foreign embassies that loss funds for projects in their districts or countries.
The money will come from $1.1. billion in projects planned for 23 states. Nearly $700 million in projects in U.S. territories Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been affected. About $1.8 billion had been set aside for other projects in 21 countries.
“We know for certain it will make for more effective and efficient use of military personnel on the border,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security Kenneth Rapuano.
“We expect that it will result in increased effectiveness in enforcement at the border and we do expect over time that it will lessen the reliance on DOD or the necessity for DOD to support (the Department of Homeland Security) when they’re beyond their capacity.”
DOD officials argued the projects will lessen the number of troops needed to patrol the border, but would not give an estimate of when that ramping down may take place.
“All the barriers will be completed … presuming there are no delays,” Rapuano said when asked for a timeline.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be contracted to complete the projects.
– City News Service