Federal officials announced today that the Bush administration “will use its authority” to bypass more than 30 laws and regulations to finish building 670 miles of fence along the southwest U.S. border” by the end of 2008:
Invoking the two legal waivers, which Congress authorized, will cut through bureaucratic red tape and sidestep environmental laws that currently impede the Homeland Security Department from building 267 miles of fencing in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to officials familiar with the plan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly about it.
The move is the biggest use of legal waivers since the administration started building the fence, and it will cover a total of 470 miles along the Southwest border, the department said. Previously, the department has used its waiver authority for two portions of fence in Arizona and one portion in San Diego.
While he bypasses environmental laws today, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff lobbied for the border fence in October by stating, “Illegal migrants really degrade the environment.”